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Nicholas Kazanas 




















































A lmost all the studies in this 
volume deal with subjects 
of Vedic and I(ndo-)E(uropean) 
provenance, i.e. relations of 
Vedic with Greek, Latin etc 
and the fabricated Proto-Indo- 
European itself. Moreover, all 
the essays kick off from the RV 
( Rgveda ). They move centri- 
petally from the RV to the 
diverse areas of Anthropology, 
History, Linguistics, Philosophy, 
Poetry and Religion, examining 
one or other aspect from a new 
perspective and leading to new 
unexpected conclusions. When 
the evidences from Sanskrit and 
the RV are cosidered, the current 
theories about, for instance, 
the origin and development of 
language and religion are seen 
to be faulty and in need of 
thorough revision. 

In addition, the cumulative 
evidences from all these different 
areas (and others) show that 
the Indoaryans are indigenous 
to India from at least the 7th 
millennium BCE, that Vedic is 
much older than any other IE 
language and closest to the Proto- 
Indo-European mother tongue 
and that all past and current IE 
studies should be scratched and 
a fresh start be made, if it is still 
thought to be necessary. 













VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 








Vedic and IndoEuropean 
Studies 


Nicholas Kazanas, 
Omilos.Meleton, Athens. 


ADITYA PRAKASHAN 

New Delhi 






© NICHOLAS KAZANAS 
First published, 2015 


ISBN 978-81-7742-137-8 


Published by Aditya Prakashan, 2/18, Ansari Road, New Delhi - 110 002. 
email: contact@adityaprakashan.com 
website: www.adityaprakashan.com 


Digitally Printed at Replika Press Pvt. Ltd. 



-Qctnfeflj. 


Contents 


Abbreviations and signs for languages and texts. vii-viii 

Introduction: aspects of scholarship. ix 

1. Sanskrit and Proto-Indo-European. 1 

2. Coherence and Preservation in Sanskrit. 43 

. 

3 ■ Rigvedic All-comprehensiveness. 125 

4. Vedic and Avestan. 142 

5. Indo-European Isoglosses: what they (don’t) show us. 185 

6. Language, the Cyclicity Theory and the Sanskrit Dhatus. 236 

7. Archaic Greece and the Veda. 268 

8. Shamans, Religion, Soma and the Rgveda. 314 

9. TadEkam. not female not male. 336 

Bibliography 351 

Index 374 







Abbreviations and signs 
for languages and texts 


AB = Aitareya Brahmana; AV = Atharvaveda: Av = Avesta; 
Br = Brdhmana(s); B Up = Brhadaranyaka Upanishad; 
ChUp = Chandogya Upanishad-, MB = Mahabharata-, P = 
Panini’s Astadhyayv, Ppl = Paipalada; Ra = Rdmdyana; RV = 
Rgveda; SB = Satapatha Bhahmana; TS = Taittinya Samhita 
(Black YajurVeda); Up = Upanishads; VS = Vajasaneyi 
Samhita (White Yajur Veda). 

adj = adjective(s); Alb = Albanian; AIT = Aryan Invasion/ 
Immigration Theory; aor = aorist; Arm = Armenian; Av = 
Avestan; B = Baltic (=Lth, Ltt, OPr); C = Celtic (=OIr, Gallic, 
Welsh, etc); cf = compare; cpd = compound; Cret = Cretan; 
cogn = cognate(s); dial = dialect; E = English; exc = except; 
f = feminine; F-U = Finno-Ugrian (=Finnish Hungarian etc); 
gen = genitive; Gk = Greek; Gm = Germanic (Gth, OE, 
OHG, Old Norse etc i.e. all or any one branch); Gth = 
Gothic; Gyp = Gypsy; Hes = Hesuchios (a Gk 
lexicographer); HG = High German; Ht = Hittite; IA = Indo- 
Aryan; IE = Indo-European; IEL = IndoEuropean Linguistics; 
Hr = Indo-Iranian; Ion = Ionian Gk; Ir = Irish; Irn = Iranian; 
Ks = Kassite; L = Latin; lex = lexicon; Lith = Lithuanian; Ltt = 
Lettish (=Latvian); Ltv = Latvian (=Lettish); m = masculine; M 
= Middle; Men = Mycenaean; Md = Modern; Mt = Mitanni; n 
= noun; N = Norse; NE = Near Eastern; NIGT = Native Indie 
Grammarian Tradition; nt = neuter; O = Old (before other 
designations, like 0Av=01d Avestan; OIr = Old Irish = one 
branch of Celtic); OC(P) = Organic Coherence (Principle); 




Viii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


Osc = Oscan (=an Old Italic language): pas = passive; perf = 
perfect; Phr = Phrygian; PIE = Proto-Indoeuropean; pi = 
plural; PP = Preservation Principle; pr.n = proper name; Pr = 
Prussian; Pur = Turana; R = Roman; Rs = Russian; S = 
Sanskrit; Sc = Scandinavian ; sing = singular; SI = Slavic (= 
any other branch: Bulgarian, O Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, 
Russian, Polish etc); Su = Sutra texts; T = Tocharian A or B, 
or both; Umb = Umbrian (old Italic); V = Vedic; vb = verb; 
VI = Vowel; voc = vocative; VT = Vedic Tradition; 
YAv=Young Avestan. 








Introduction: aspects of scholarship 


1 . As the title Vedic and Indo-European Studies indicates, 
this volume consists of studies dealing with common subjects 
in both areas so that one may illuminate the other. Following 
facts rather than conjectures and reasoning rather than 
repetition, I arrive at unorthodox conclusions that diverge 
from mainstream (usually mechanical) thinking. 

The most significant conclusion is that th eRgveda 
furnishes facts that militate against many prevalent notions in 
many disciplines and studies in academia like the beginning 
of language or religion. Another conclusion concerns the 
origins of the Indoaryan or Vedic people and the obnoxious 
Aryan Invasion/Immigration Theory. 

The AIT (=Aryan Invasion/Immigration Theory) is a 
major impediment in mainstream IE (=Indo-European) 
scholarship but it is not the only one. In fact this is an external 
structure established by other, internal or psychological, 
tendencies like inattention, love of ease, mechanicalness, 
arrogance, obstinacy, ambition, greed etc, all sprouting from 
an unchecked ego: all these can be encapsulated in the triad 
arrogance, greed, ignorance (more in the sense of ignoring 
than not knowing). And it is these that often motivate us 
rather than love and promotion of truth, the primary purpose 
of all scholarship. (And if your mind, dear reader, rejects all 
this as claptrap unrelated to scholarship, then it is in the 
thralls of the triad.) 

The AIT has thrown its obscuring and distorting shadow 
over the entire region of IE as well as of Old Indie studies. All 
indoeuropeanists and almost all sanskritists take this Theory 


X / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

for granted: namely that a force of IE speakers arrived at 
Saptasindhu, the land with the network of the Indus and 
other rivers, in what is now N-W India and S-E Pakistan. In 
the older version, these invaders conquered the natives c 
1700-1500 BCE and turned them into a servile class mainly 
or drove them off south-eastward. In the later revised 
version they were immigrants who entered the said area and 
mixed with the natives but, now, for indeterminate reasons 
managed to impose their highly complex language (=Vedic/ 
Old Indic/Sanskrit) and their general culture, absorbing at the 
same time many elements from them. 

To a mind free of the conditioning of mainstream 
mechanical repetition this Theory seems strange if not 
preposterous, having no basis in fact or reason; for it is not 
supported by evidences of any kind but only layers of 
assertion based on conjectures formulated and developed in 
the 18th and the early 19th centuries (as I shall show below 
in §5-7). But it took root and became mainstream dogma, a 
“linguistic doctrine” (Emenau 1954), since scholarship, 
whether academic or informal, ceased to perform its higher 
function of pursuing truth and elevating the human mind, and 
limited itself to the grosser aspect of promoting pet theories 
and pedantry around received doctrines and self-seeking. 

2. From a very long experience of reading, studying and 
teaching, of participating in Conferences and, in recent 
years, of editing articles for Journals (and, of course, private 
contacts and exchanges with scholars in many fields) I 
acquired the certainty that very few academics use their 
reason to the full and even fewer are, despite their 
vociferous protestations to the contrary, interested in truth. 
Let us look at some examples that illustrate my point. 

a) In the nasadiya-sukta of the RV (=Rgveda), 10.129 
(or Creation Hymn as is known to Western scholars), the first 
three stanzas inform us that “then”, in the very beginning, 



INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / xi 


before anything of creation had manifested (i.e., before the 
Big Bang), there was not being nor non-being, no space nor 
highmost heaven, no mortality or immortality, no night or 
day: i.e. there were no dimensions of space and time and no 
beings. There was only undifferentiated darkness covered 
by darkness and emptiness. There was only That One, 
breathing naturally, of its own power, without air (since 
there was as yet no air!). Apart from That One, which was 
also dbhu — ‘emerging into being’ and from which all else 
(all that we know as creation/world) would manifest, there 
was absolutely nothing! 

The statements are plain and unambiguous. 

The first stanza ends with a question ambhah klm dsid 
gdhanam gabhlrdm? ‘Was it ambhas fathomless, profound?’ 

Countless generations of scholars and scholiasts translate 
the word ambhas as ‘water’; and the question — ‘Was it 
water ...?’ 

But how could there be water when nothing at all existed 
except That One, which breathed with innate power without 
air? Could water breathe? Could water be no space, no 
heaven, utter darkness enveloped by darkness and 
emptiness? Could water be dbhu ‘emerging into being’ or 
‘coming into existence’? ... The answer is simply ‘No!’. 

Now, in other contexts ambhas can designate ‘water’ 
and there are cognate words like abhra ‘cloud’, ambu 
‘water’. Also, in other ancient cosmogonies in Mesopotamia, 
Egypt and Greece (but not China), we find that our material 
world does arise out of primordial water. Presumably these 
facts plus the adjectives ‘fathomless’ and ‘profound’ 
suggested the meaning ‘water’. 

But ambhas is found also with the meaning ‘fruitfulness, 
potency’. Since the hymn states unequivocally that “then” 
nothing other than the Breathing One existed, surely here 
also ambhas should mean ‘unmanifest creativeness, 
potency’ and thus give a basis for the subsequent abhu 
’emerging into being’. 


Xii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

I pointed this out at least 10 years ago and several times 
afterwards. Nobody took it up. On the contrary we still read 
and hear of ‘water’ (“Water water everywhere and not a 
drop to drink”). 

b) Then, in the 3rd stanza we find the word salilam 
which in other contexts also means ‘water’, especially in 
later texts. But here too nothing has yet been created 
or made manifest. The line (2) - 

a[s]praketam salilam sarvam- (s) idam 

‘indistinguishable salilam was all this [world we know]’. 
The line before (=line 1) says that “in the beginning agre 
there was darkness tamas covered with darkness”. The next 
line (3) says that “what-was-emerging-into-being dbhu was 
enveloped/overlaid apihitam by emptiness/void tuchyena”. 
So, again, how and where does ‘water’ fit here, with 
darkness, emptiness and the creative/evolving principle 
“emerging-into-being”? There is no hint here or elsewhere in 
the hymn that the Breathing One, the Creative/Evolving 
Principle, or the manifest world, arose out of water. In fact, 
the next stanza (4) says that, again, “in the beginning agre 
desire kama evolved-wholly-upon that”. It is no more likely 
that the water desired than that it breathed. No, as with 
dmbhas, salila here does not mean ‘water’; it indicates the 
unmanifest field of potentiality, the flux of potency and 
energy from which the creation would manifest. ( salila < sal- 
/sar-/sr/ = gatau ‘motion’.) 

In this hymn, then, water is not the primordial substance 
out of which manifested the entire creation, as the Greek 
presocratic philosopher Thales believed. 

c) For the third example I go to the distant field of 
Psychology/Psychiatry. Many aspects today seem to demand 
radical revision. Dr. R. Melzak wrote some 25 years ago: 
“The field of psychology is in a state of crisis. We are no 
closer to understanding the most fundamental problems of 


INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / Xlii 


psychology than we were when psychology became a 
science a hundred years ago” (1989:1)- However, here 
I shall focus on the element of dreams. Freud’s views have 
been modified or pushed aside by many subsequent 
practitioners like Adler, Jung and others. But no clean break 
was made and no fresh start. Consequently many errors in 
theory and practice continue. Therapists still utilise the 
patients’ dreams as part of the method of promoting a cure. 

In his massive book The Interpretation of dreams Freud 
writes: “Dreams are the GUARDIANS of sleep and not its 
disturbers (p 330)... The restoration of the connections which 
the dream-work has destroyed is a task to be performed by 
the interpretative process” (p422) etc, etc. Then, later, in 
various places in his Collected Works Jung writes about 
dreams: “They are pure nature; they show us the 
unvarnished natural truth and are therefore fitted ... to give us 
back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature” 
(vol 10, §317). This is, of course, highly doubtful, to put it 
mildly, while the statement that follows is flagrantly self¬ 
contradictory: “They do not deceive, they do not lie, they do 
not distort or disguised?)... They are invariably seeking to 
express something that the ego does not know and does not 
understand” (vol 17, §189). Jung laid emphasis on the 
“collective unconscious”, on images and archetypes which 
are intuitive ideas (vol 15, §105) and soul-images or symbols 
that “mean more than they say [presenting] a perpetual 
challenge” (vol 15, §119, my bracket). Such are the Grail, the 
Cross, the Sun, the Witch-doctor, the Snake etc (see 
especially vol 12). 

Jung’s adherents follow him faithfully. Thus Dr. E.F. 
Edinger gives many examples of such dreams and their 
interpretation having as reference frame the collective 
unconscious and archetypes (1992: 70, 84, 174, etc etc) 
even though many of these are specific to particular cultures 
and have no basis in reality, like the Adam-and-Eve tale, the 
green colour ascribed to the Holy Ghost etc. 



xiv / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

But the real difficulty is the fact that people do not 
remember the whole dream and either leave gaps or fill 
them in with their own fabrications. Many of the reproduced 
dreams in these publications read like literary compositions. 
I have asked many students of mine about this and they all 
admitted to not remembering fully their dreams. I don’t 
remember them either except vaguely and in fragments. 
Moreover, and this is most important, some people make up 
entirely the dreams they narrate. Some years ago, a friend 
had sessions with a therapist and confessed to me that he felt 
the therapist wanted to hear dreams of a more or less 
particular type; so on the way to the session he actually made 
up dreams of that particular type. 

Thus dream interpretation can hardly be reliable. But it is 
used fully. 

3. Let us now go to Greece holding in mind the adjective/ 
name rbhu ‘intelligent fashioner’. Scholars generally agree 
that this word is cognate with English/Germanic elf{ Elfe, Alp 
etc), Old Slavic rabb ‘servant’ and the name of the Greek 
poet-musician-hero Orpheus. 

In the RV (1.20,110; 3.60; 7.48 etc) the Rbhus are three 
brothers, sons of Sudhanvan who perform several 
miraculous deeds “through the power of mind”. For instance, 
RV 4.2 says ratham ye cakruh suvftam sucetaso 
[ajvihvarantam manasas pari dhyayd The wise-ones who 
fashioned the fine-rolling, impeccable car by visionary 
power dhi- out of mind manas-’. But the three are often 
indicated by the singular Rbhu as one. Thus in the RV the 
name appears both in the singular and in the plural. The 
three brothers, though mortal, thanks to their great mental 
power gain the favour of the gods and stay in the mansion of 
the Sungod where they serve as priests and there become 
immortal gods themselves. 

The Slavic ‘servant’ can be put aside as of no 
significance other than the cognation rbhu — rabb. The 



INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XV 


Germanic elves are in the plural, a whole tribe of them. They 
are of two kinds: the dark ones live underground and are 
often identified with the Dwarfs who often are greedy and 
who are craftsmen dealing with metals, precious stones and 
other minerals; the fair ones live in the light in Alfheim, are 
associated with the sun and can heal. Thus it is not difficult to 
see the connection with the rigvedic Rbhus. 

Greek Orpheus was a figure of veneration from very 
ancient times and a multitude of legends were woven around 
him. He too was a clever craftsman with music and became a 
devotee (and in later legend a priest) of the Sungod. Only 
instead of gaining immortal godhood he was torn apart by the 
Maenads; his head was thrown into the river Hebros, floated 
still singing into the sea and finally was washed ashore on 
Lesbos where a shrine was established giving out oracular 
prophecies. A different strand has him killed by the lighting 
of Zeus. 

Here again countless generations of ancient and modern 
scholars tried to trace his antecedents. Some said Orpheus 
was a historical figure who performed miraculous deeds and 
founded a religion — “Orphism”. Others said he was the son 
of the Sungod or even the very incarnation of Apollo. Some 
said his origin was to be found with the Thracians or the 
shamans in the Hyperborean regions (and farthest Siberia); 
others claimed that he came from Anatolia and still others 
argued that he was a native Greek and/or son of Oiagros. 

But, of course, Orpheus is a PIE (=Proto-Indo-European) 
figure, as the evidence shows and some IEans brought a 
memory of him with them when they came and settled into 
Greece, in the 3rd or the 2nd millennium BC. Although this 
fact is now well-known among IE scholars, classicists 
continue to speculate and argue in their accustomed vein. 

4. Closely connected with the Orphics are the 
Pythagoreans. Both held the idea of reincarnation, albeit 
clearly, not in their early but only in their later traditions. 


XVi / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Now, since the very early Greek literature of Homer, 
Hesiod and other poets until Pindar and Empedocles (early 
5th cent BCE), shows no definite knowledge of this doctrine, 
hellenists tend to accept what Herodotos says in the second 
Book of his Histories (2.123), namely that Pythagoras brought 
it into Greece from Egypt. In fact several scholars have the 
Greeks importing many ideas into Greece from the Near East 
(e.g. Penglase 1994; West 1971, 1994). 

However, neither Homer nor Hesiod are reliable witnesses 
for the PIE lore that the Greeks brought with them. The traveller- 
geographer Pausanias of the 2nd century CE records (7.25.5) a 
legend about Demeter Erinus from Arcadia in South Greece: the 
goddess became a mare to escape from Poseidon but was 
discovered by the Seagod, who then became a stallion and 
mounted her, and from their union were bom Areion, a splendid 
white horse, and Despoina, a beautiful girl. Now, this must be a 
PIE mythologem since it is found in a slightly different form in 
the Nordic mythology with Loki becoming a mare to entice 
Svadilfari, a giant’s stallion ( Edda ), and in the Veda when 
goddess Saranyu (note the cognation with Gk erinus) became a 
mare but her consort, the Sungod, found her, mounted her as a 
stallion and from their union were born the two Asvins (RV 
10.17.1-2; Brhaddevata 6.162). Yet, although the legend was 
preserved orally by the priests in Arcadia, Homer and Hesiod 
knew nothing about it! 

We can say with certitude that Herodotos is often totally 
unreliable and this is one such instance. The Egyptians had 
no doctrine of reincarnation; they mummified the corpses of 
noblemen and held that their souls rose into heaven joining 
Osiris or Ra in his sky-boat. In fact, no Near-eastern culture 
had reincarnation at this period. 

It would be far more reasonable to accept that the Greeks 
brought the idea of metempsuchosis(= reincarnation) or 
palingenesia (again-birth) together with the Erinus legend, 
the memory of Orpheus and many other elements from the 
PIE culture, rather than assume that these were borrowed 
from Near-eastern cultures that did not have them anyway. 










INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XVii 


But, and this is a regrettable fact, many otherwise 
excellent hellenists do not wish to consider the PIE ancestry 
of the Greeks, despite the accumulation of enormous 
evidence for this. Why? ... One can only assume reasons 
discussed below, in §8. 

M.L. West published his Indo-European Poetry and Myth 
in 2007. He forms an exception to the general state of 
hellenic studies. But even he fails to any see similarities 
between Orpheus and the Rbhus (p 297). 

5. The issues regarding hellenist scholarship, the PIE 
heritage and the Near Eastern elements of the archaic Greek 
culture, are discussed in greater detail and in relation to the 
Vedic culture in ch 7 in this volume, “Archaic Greece and the 
Veda”. 

All chapters consist of papers read at Conferences and/or 
published in Journals or Books together with other studies. 
However, no paper herein deals with the AIT as such, since 
this was examined extensively in many earlier articles and 
talks and in my Indo-Aryan Origins and other Vedic Issues 
(2009). But as now more material has surfaced showing 
plainly the incredible hollowness of this Theory, I advert to it 
summarily. 

Today a myth is perpetuated that this Aryan Immigration 
Theory is based on linguistic considerations. Indoeuropeanists 
and sanskritists in Western academia declare that all other 
kinds of evidence (i.e. anthropological, archaeological, 
genetic, literary and the like) should be accommodated 
within the linguistic frame (which they erroneously 
established) and made to conform to it. 

This is a most astonishing assertion of linguistic 
arrogance. Let me at once state that here I am referring to 
comparativists and indologists, adherents of the AIT only. 
Many linguists do not in the least agree on this with the antics 
of Western indoeuropeanists and sanskritists. The readers 
can find a good example of dissenting linguists in S.P. 
Harrison (2003) in ch. 5 “Indo-European Isoglosses...” (§6). 



XViii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Just before Harrison, they will find two statements from 
adherents of the AIT exhibiting ignorance, arrogance and 
superciliousness. I cite here only one of them by a very 
eminent comparativist/indoeuropeanist/sanskritist: 

“At some time in the second millennium BC a band or bands 
of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called 
Sanskrit, entered India over the north west passes. This is our 
linguistic doctrine which has been held now for more than a 
century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the 
arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any 
such invasion” (M.B. Emeneau 1954: emphasis added). 

However, it is Emeneau himself who suffers from 
ignorance, not the Hindu tradition. For only 12 years later, in 
1966, an article by the eminent archaeologist George Dale in 
the Scientific American showed beyond any doubt that there 
had been no invasion, no bloodshed, no conquest, no 
violence. Note, too, that Emeneau talks of a doctrine and 
arguments, not of data, evidence(s) and facts. Now, whereas 
historians like A.L. Basham accepted it readily (1975), it took 
Western and many Indian sanskritists 30 years to accept this 
fact and change the theory into one of peaceful immigration. 

6. In Ch. 5, in §8, I show that far from being a linguistic 
matter, the AIT started as a sociological speculation in the 
18 th century of our Era, and the invaders into India were 
thought to be Egyptian or Mesopotamian, because these two 
early civilizations had a powerful priesthood, strong armies 
and a history of invasions and conquests. 1 The savants of that 
period wanted to explain the social caste-system of priests, 
warriors, producers and servants and the intermediate 


1 Some scholars like Langlois, Elphinstone and others wrote against 
this theory of invasion and conquest accepting the fact that the caste 
system was indigenous like similar systems in Europe (aristocracy, 
priesthood, producers and slaves or serfs). They were ignored. The 
many wanted conquest! 



INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / xix 


gradations found so institutionalized in India. So they hit on 
the notion of an invasion from those countries. The invaders 
formed the three upper strata of aristocracy, priesthood and 
producers, while the natives became the servile class. The 
Theory acquired its Aryan mantle thanks to Max Muller in the 
middle of the 19 th century. 

The linguistic aspect came later and was a product, not 
the cause, of the Invasion Theory. The details are buried 
deep in a past that is now forgotten and not at all mentioned 
in the modern myth of the AIT. This myth gives the now 
well-established mainstream chronology for the Old Indie 
literature and on this basis was erected the entire IE linguistic 
edifice. But hardly anyone knows that this chronology was 
established on two fictions. 

All modern texts on Sanskrit and ancient Indian literature 
(e.g. Burrow 1973:43) give in full, or refer to, the 
chronological scheme set out by Max Muller in his History of 
Ancient Sanskrit Literature (1859). What they don’t say is 
how this pioneer sanskritist arrived at this. 

The scheme was based on a ghost story in 
Kathasaritsagara (composed c 1100 CE!) which mentions a 
certain Katyayana. This person was identified by Muller with 
the sutra-writer Katyayana, placed in the 3 rd century (or c 
200) BCE. Thus, working from that date as his basis, he set up 
the following chronological scheme: 

chandas (=RV) c 1200-1000; mantras (Atharva, Yajus) 

c 1000-800; 

brdhmanas, upanisads c800-600; sutras etc down to 200 BCE. 

Another factor entering those calculations was the world 
chronology which was established by the Irish bishop 
Ussher and was based on the lives of the patriarchs in the 
Old Testament. This Book was thought to have been 
revealed by God to Jewish prophets; Hebrew History was 
regarded by Christians as the most ancient, basic and reliable 
one. According to Ussher's calculations the world was 



XX / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

created in 4004 BCE! So all pre-Christian events had to fit 
within that span. (Charles Lyell, initially lawyer and then 
geologist, had published his Principles of Geology by 1833 
and his Elements of Geology by 1838, showing that our planet 
had existed for millions of years, but these had not gained 
currency, especially among devout Christians, until much 
later.) 

This, then, is the basis for the mainstream chronology of 
ancient Indian literature and the AIT. It is not based on 
linguistic evidence as is generally and vaguely but 
vociferously claimed but on a ghost story composed 2500 
years after the alleged Aryan invasion (which initially was 
Egyptian and Mesopotamian) and on a Christian ecclesiastic 
myth: in other words, on two fictions! 2 

The linguistic and all other details connected with this 
subject were worked out gradually in the course of the 
subsequent decades to come into harmony with this ghost 
inspired chronological skeleton. What is more, the whole IE 
linguistic superstructure with its comparisons, its “laws” of 
phonetic change and its conjectural reconstructions, always 
and wholly unverifiable, was built upon these fictions! 

7 . This chronology came under criticism at that time (by 
Goldstrucker, Whitney, Winternitz and others) and even 
Muller admitted later that nobody could determine the dates 
of the Rigvedic hymns which could be from 1500, 2000 or 
even 5000 BCE. But his earlier scheme stuck and is being 
taught today in all Western Universities and most Indian 
ones. 

2 For a full exposition of all these aspects the interested readers 
could consult my paper “The Collapse of the AIT and Prevalence 
of Indigenism” which can be downloaded from 

http://www.omilosmeleton.gr/en/indologv en.asp. This is being 
published by the National Mission for Manuscripts, IGNCA, New Delhi, 
in the series Tattvabodha Lectures. 




INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXi 


However, all archaeologists today, experts in the area of 
ancient Saptasindhu (Allchin, Kenoyer, Possehl, Shaffer and 
many others), emphasize the unbroken continuity of the 
native culture from c 7000 to 600 BCE, when the Persians 
began to invade the region. American specialist J.M. 
Kenoyer wrote: “[Tlhere is no archaeological or biological 
evidence for invasions or mass migrations into the Indus 
Valley between the end of the Harappan phase, about 1900 
BCE and the beginning of the Early Historical Period around 
600 BCE” (1998:174). Even D. Agrawal, an avowed non- 
indigenist Indian, admits that there is no evidence of an entry 
and calls the IAs (=Indoaryans) “elusive” (2003:129-135). 
Thus all archaeologists agree that there is no evidence of any 
invasion, intrusion or immigration. 

Genetics also has in the 2000 decade established beyond 
any doubt the fact that genes flowed into Europe from N-W 
India (Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh): these are the R lala and the 
M458 and they travelled northwestward before 8000 years 
ago (see Underhill 2010). 

8 . The AIT persists. Apart from Muller’s fictional basis 
which gained acceptance, scholars have pointed out some 
more factors that fed the persistence. 

Lord Colin Renfrew, archaeologist turned linguist, wrote 
of the AIT: “this comes rather from a historical assumption 
about the “coming” of the Indo-Europeans” (1989:182, my 
emphasis). And Edmund Leach, Provost of King’s College 
(Cam. UK) wrote: “Because of their commitment to a 
unilateral segmented history of language development that 
needed to be mapped onto the ground, the philologists took 
it for granted that proto-Indo-Iranian was a language that 
originated outside India or Iran... From this we derived the 
myth of the “Aryan invasion”. Leach went further to 
comment that after the discovery of the Harappan culture in 
the 1920’s, “Indo-European scholars should have scrapped 


O 


XXii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

all their historical reconstructions and start again from 
scratch. But this is not what happened. Vested interests and 
academic posts were involved” (1990: 227-245). 3 

Renfrew refers to common, understandable and perhaps 
forgivable motives and mechanisms found in academic 
work. Leach is more severe in describing (and condemning) 
the motives of self-interest. Academics may protest at 
Leach’s accusation, but I doubt that anyone who cares to 
examine his/her motives with any objectivity will dismiss 
this totally. Self-interest and dishonesty, often quite 
deliberate, are hardly uncommon. We all want posts and 
fame and the remuneration and the side perks that 
accompany them. And we all know very well the jealousies, 
wrangles, back-biting and back-knifing that go on in 
academia and often have to do not with scholarship itself but 
with posts and remuneration. 

I would add another motive — laziness. Again, we often 
avoid making extra efforts to get to know past or other 
studies which seem unrelated to our specialized field or too 
remote and superseded by recent ones. Who now would, 
given the enormous amount of modern publications on Indie 
protohistory, make time to read the voluminous works of the 
French and English writers of mid-eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries — father Catron, Wilks, Campbell, Ellis, 
Elphinstone, Langles, Remusat and others who laid the 
foundations for (or opposed) the AIT?.... 

Yet unless one has consulted them, one will not have 
grasped the very simple truth that the alleged immigration 
into ancient Saptasindhu from Iran has nothing to do with 
linguistics but is a mere transformation of an invasion of 
Aryans which in its turn is a transformation of an earlier 


3 More details on these issues are given in chapter 5 on the 
Isoglosses, §18 and conclusion III; also in the paper mentioned in the 
preceding n2. 




INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXiii 


theory of Egyptian or Mesopotamian invasion (§6 above) put 
forth by the scholars of c. 1750-1800 because they wanted 
an explanation for the complex rigid caste system found in 
India. The fact that similar sociological systems had existed 
in Europe since the beginnings of recorded history did not 
help at all. As was said above, in §7, several scholars wrote 
against this Theory — some even in the beginning of the 
19th century. Moreover, despite the many institutionalized 
gradations within the different castes, the Indian system did 
not have the horrid institution of slavery, which in America 
persisted until the bloody Civil War (1861-65) and in some 
European colonies until later. 

And, at the same time, we observe the enormous habit of 
pedantry by which an academic writes 50 pages with an 
incredible abundance of useless information when, perhaps, 
only five or even less pages would do. 

We could add other peculiar “prejudices” which result in 
severe short-sightedness. But enough said. We can leave the 
AIT and aspects of our psychology. 

9- All the papers were written or revised and published 
in the decade 2003-2013. Almost all have brief abstracts or 
introductions delineating the discussion and conclusion. But 
a few words here for each one would be useful. 

The first study “Sanskrit and proto-Indo-European” 
(published in Indian Linguistics, pp 75-100, vol 65, 2004) 
examines several aspects of Old Indie and argues that on this 
evidence, the rationale of IE comparative linguistics is wrong 
and needs thorough reconsideration. One such aspect is the 
stem for man (S nr/nar, GK aner, alleged PIE* d2ner etc). A 
second one is the ablaut (or apophonie ) system, which 
is formed in a full and logical form only in Sanskrit — 
despite the thousands of pages printed about other, mainly 
Greek, schemes. Yet another one is the family of retroflex 



xxiv / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

sounds Qmurdhanya in Sanskrit :[r/t/tha/da/dha/na/ra). 
And so on. 4 

The same theme but from an entirely different angle is 
promoted in the second study, “Coherence and 
Preservation in Sanskrit” (published in Kumar 2009, 108- 
184, but revised since). Herein are examined more than 400 
IE lexical items (nouns, verbs etc) occurring in the IE 
branches and denoting fairly common and as far as possible 
invariable things, qualities and activities like arm and foot, 
anger and love, father and mother, bowl and barley/grain, to 
breathe and to fly and so on. This study shows that Sanskrit 
lacks 53, some of which may well have not been PIE, 
Germanic lacks 145, Greek 149, Baltic 185, Latin 207, Celtic 
210 and Slavic 215. Thus Sanskrit preserves a much larger 
stock whereas Greek, with its early and voluminous 
literature does not surpass Germanic, and Latin, with an 
almost equally early and rich literature, lags behind 
Germanic and Baltic. Another and perhaps more important 
aspect is that while many words appear in Germanic, Greek, 
Latin etc, only as isolated lexemes without a family of 
cognates (e.g. ‘daughter’), in Sanskrit many such words have 
root-nouns, adjectives and verbal forms (§26ff). Sanskrit has 
organic coherence. Both facts indicate that Sanskrit is by far 
the most archaic branch and most faithful to PIE. 

The third study, “Rigvedic All-comprehensiveness” 
reinforces the conclusion that Sanskrit is the most archaic of 
the IE branches and closest to PIE. In the second chapter are 
examined the lexical items. Here, in the third, are examined 
grammatical and poetical aspects and in every case the 
Vedic language and poetry are seen to contain everything 
found in one or two of the other branches. For instance, the 


4 Even as this was going to the press, a friend drew my attention to 
a paper on the Internet by G. Benedetti, which states similar ideas: 
http://new-indology. blogspot. de/2013/07/ indo-european-linguistics- 
indo-iranian.html 




INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXV 


Periphrastic Perfect, which is found in Hittite but not in 
ancient Greek or Latin (in both it appears as a later 
innovation), is also present in Vedic. Then, Greek poetry has 
strict metre but little or no alitteration whereas Germanic 
poetry has as one of its basic elements alitteration but not 
strict metre: both of these are present in the hymns of the 
Rgveda. 

The fourth study, “Vedic and Avesta” is very technical 
and shows that contrary to all mainstream belief, Vedic is 
far older than Avestan. (This paper was first published in 
Vedic Venues Vol 1, pp 183-229, 2012.) It shows also that it 
is the Iranians who moved out of the wider Saptasindhu to 
Bactria/Gandhara, then to South-East Iran and then 
N-Westward. 

The fifth study “Indo-European Isoglosses...” was 
published also in Vedic Venues vol 2, 2013). As the title 
shows, here are examined the numerous IE isoglosses. Some 
scholars used them selectively in support of the mainstream 
view of the AIT. However, when all isoglosses are put under 
the microscope, they are seen to support the indigenist 
position. The isoglosses are accommodated in their totality 
and diversity only if as the common urheimat is postulated an 
area in Bactria and the larger Saptasindhu, in the maps 
provided in Ch4, §17 and ch5, §18. 

The sixth study, with its “Language: the Cyclicity 
Theory and Sanskrit dhdtus”, is not directly concerned with 
IE matters. It was first written in 2008 for the Annual 
Conference of the Linguistic Society of India and then 
published in a revised form in 2013 in Quaderni di 
Semantica vol 34 (pp 51-72). There are various theories 
about the nature, the beginnings and the development of 
language(s). I quote here L. Bloomfield: “Language was an 
invention of ancient heroes, or else the product of a mystical 
Spirit of the Folk. It began in man’s attempts to initiate noises 
(the ‘bow-wow’ theory), or in violent outcries and 
explanations (the ‘pooh-pooh’ theory)” (1935:6). There 


xxvi / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

have been many refinements and expansions of these 
theories with the passing of years. One strange view, 
appearing recently and echoing some scholars of the 19 th 
century, is that Language “evolves” in a (neo-)Darwinian 
manner: hence the striking title of one such study — N. Ritt’s 
Selfish Sounds and Linguistics: A Darwinian Approach to 
Language. Such an approach presupposes that Language is 
an autonomous living organism — something which most 
emphatically it is not. No language or its sounds ever 
evolved of themselves! English did not develop of itself to its 
present state from Anglo-Saxon etc but was helped on 
its way by the millions who spoke (and wrote) it and 
particularly by great men of literature like Chaucer in the 
14 th and Shakespeare in the 16 th centuries. A different theory 
claims that there is a cyclic pattern whereby languages move 
from the isolating typology (where every meaningful 
lexeme is a distinct word, as in Classical Chinese) to 
agglutinative (where long compounds contain several 
separable meaningful elements, as in Hungarian) and then 
towards a fusional state (where words contain basic stems 
and other elements marking gender, number and case in 
nouns and person, number, mood, tense, activity etc in 
verbs, as in Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Modern Lithuanian, 
Russian etc). This appears to be true in some cases but does 
not really explain how language starts. However, the very 
real existence of dhatus, i.e. basic linguistic seedforms or 
roots, that constitute nine classes and develop into nouns and 
verbs according to regular processes, belies this cyclic 
theory; for language-sounds or lexemes cannot evolve 
from a chaotic condition or multiplicity to dhatus. The highly 
complex situation in Sanskrit suggests a sudden “explosion” 
(Dixon 1992, Bickerton 1990, Chomsky 1986) and the 
presence of very great intelligence at the very outset — 
something like the mythical way goddess Athena sprang out 
of Zeus temple in full panoply. 



INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXVii 

The seventh study “Archaic Greece and the Veda” was 
first published in the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental 
Research Institute (Poona) and has since been revised 
considerably. This paper examines affinities between the 
archaic Greek culture and the Veda. Several elements, ideas 
and motifs that hellenists consider to be loans from the Near 
East are, through comparison, shown to be very similar 
elements, ideas and motifs, in the Vedic texts and therefore 
inherited forms from the PIE culture. For example, 
I mentioned earlier (§4 above) that reincarnation is thought 
by many scholars (thanks to Herodotos 2.123) to have been 
brought into Greece from Egypt, or some other Near-eastern 
culture. However, as this is not found in any N-E culture yet 
is found both in the Vedic texts and among the Celts, we must 
accept it as a PIE element that was preserved in the Celtic, 
Greek and Vedic branches but not elsewhere. In another 
case, W. Burkert links with Mesopotamian parallels, the 
incidence of demons, guilt-spirits and ghouls and the like in 
early Greek texts but all such phenomena are found in the 
Veda and can, therefore, taken to be inherited PIE ideas. 
(The details are in section (V) ‘Magic and Purification’ of this 
chapter 7.) One blessed side-effect of this study is the 
emergence of a great number of Greek-Vedic affinities. 

The eighth study is a paper published here for the first 
time. It examines an idea, current in Anthropology and also 
certain historical and religious studies, that the beginnings of 
religion are to be found in shamanist practices and the 
ingestion of drugs that bring about altered, higher states of 
consciousness. With the help of the Rgveda, which is a 
document much much older than all the shamanist evidences 
collected by anthropologists since, say, 1850, or allegedly 
found in ancient texts (e.g. the tales about Orpheus), I argue 
that higher states of consciousness are attained by adherence 
to ethical principles and simple practices of meditation, 
reflexion, focusing of attention and the like. I argue further 


xxviii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

that, on the contrary, shamanist phenomena with intensive 
dancing or drug-ingestion are later, devolved or degenerate 
practices to which people resorted after they had lost the 
ability and knowledge of how to attain higher states through 
ethical practices, attention etc. 

The ninth study “Tad-ekam: not female not male” deals 
with the claim that the most ancient supreme deity was 
female, the Mother-goddess, and its rival that it was male, the 
Sky-father or Sun-engenderer, and the like. Some scholars 
like M. Gimbutas and R Graves opt for the female Earth 
goddess adducing evidence from Old Europe and 
Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures. However there is 
ample evidence of a male supreme deity from a very old 
period even in the Near East and certainly in iconic 
representation in prehistoric India and elsewhere. At the 
same time, there is evidence of a neuter, non-female, non¬ 
male, supreme deity in cultures like that of the Jomon in 
Japan in the 11 th millennium BCE, while several hymns of 
the Rgveda declare that all deities are expressions of a Primal 
Power, itself unmanifest and neither female nor male — 
tad ekam ‘That One’. 

10 . Just as until cl860 (pre-)history had to be compressed 
within the 4004 BCE limit set by Ussher (§6, above), so in the 
20 th century a new much earlier limit was promulgated by 
paleontologists who, according to the discoveries of skulls 
and skeletal bones, thought that anatomically modern man 
homo sapiens sapiens appeared on the planet only 40.000 
ago, after the Neanderthal type. So again human prehistory 
had to be contained within this span. 

However, in the latter part of the 20 th century, as more 
cranioskeletal fragments were discovered, the limit was 
pushed back to 80.000, 120.000 and now 200.000 years 
B(efore) P(resent), when home sapiens sapiens 
demonstrably first emerged. 


INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXIX 

Surprisingly, with but few exceptions, mainstream 
savants continue to favour recent dates. This preference is 
largely conditioned by their view of civilization/culture, 
which is generally based on material artifacts, since for those 
distant pre-writing periods these are the only criteria. 

11 . Another factor that caused and continues to cause 
havoc in our thinking is the notion of (neo-)Darwinian 
evolution. 

Professional and amateur anthropologists explored and 
studied communities which lived in jungles, deserts, 
mountains and other areas difficult of access with customs 
and traditions quite different from those of Western Christian 
societies. As the latter were and are, again on the criteria of 
material artifacts and technology, thought to be more 
advanced and “civilized”, the former were baptized 
backward and “primitive”. These primitive communities 
were thought to be or to represent the ancient early stages of 
the so-called advanced societies. As the Darwinian evolution 
became quite fashionable among biologists, other scientists, 
academics and writers in general, applied it to all kinds of 
phenomena, even inorganic, material and man-made ones, 
like the evolution of drama (comedy/tragedy), of language 
(above, §9, 6 th ch.), the evolution of the telescope or, more 
recently, the submarine! 

Various institutions and society itself were thought to 
develop or “evolve”. The process had actually started long 
before Darwin with anthropologists and, even earlier, with 
Aristotle’s Politics where, in Books 1 and 2, he attempted 
among other things to justify slavery, to indicate the 
specialization into crafts and trades and delineate the rise of 
ethnos ‘tribe’ and polis ‘city’. (Plato’s treatment of ideal or 
primitive society in his Republic 368E,ff, is quite different in 
that specialisation is indeed indicated but, moreover, the 
members of the community are respectful towards one 
another, towards nature and towards the gods.) 


XXX / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Now, undoubtedly evolution does proceed in many 
biological phenomena in the dictionary sense of the word, 
i.e. in an orderly and progressive development governed by 
exact but not in every case known laws. But the almost 
indiscriminate use of the concept with inorganic man-made 
institutions and things has led to much misunderstanding. 
This becomes evident by considering what is also excluded 
by the idea “evolution”. The concept excludes the presence 
of intelligence and planning: it designates an independent 
and mechanical process moving always in the same 
progressive direction. It excludes external factors or 
accidents that may instantly change the initial course and 
even reverse it. Thus, and much more important, the concept 
has no antithesis — decay, degeneration, devolution! 5 

But such a constant advancement in one and the same 
direction, that is progressive transformation into a 
more complex or higher form, is not really a scientific 
concept. Science is based on precise observation and 
experimentation that disproves or validates assumptions and 
theories. The concept of evolution presented above is not 
really observable either in nature or in the laboratory. On the 
contrary, it is observable that decay, degeneration, decline, 
decadence and dissolution occur all the time and are not 
“evolution” but forms of “devolution”, the opposite of 
evolution, observable everywhere. Every type of organic 
growth at some point stops and decay/degeneration/ 
dissolution sets in. It happens with all living organisms — 
plants, animals, humans. A man’s vigour may go on 

5 Many biologists and others have expressed doubts about the 
(neo-) Darwinian theory of evolution and continue to do so. I append 
a small selection of writers. First, Darwin himself who in his second 
classic The Descent of Man admits that he has exaggerated 
the importance of natural selection in his desire “to overthrow the 
dogma of separate creations” as in G. Himmelfarb (1959:302)! 
Grasse 1973; Denton 1985; Behe 1996, 2004, 2008; Demski & Ruse 
2004; Meyer 2009; Wells 2011. 



INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXXi 

increasing until the age of 30 or 40 but decline begins 
afterwards and by 80 or 90 decay or degeneration has well 
set in; sometimes, due to accidents, an unhealthy mode of 
living, or some other factor(s), this may take over even at 30. 

Thus, strangely, anthropologists do not normally 
consider that some of the “primitive” communities, 
discovered and studied from the end of the 19 th century 
onwards, may be examples of devolution or decadence of 
ancient and once vigorous societies. That this may have been 
so is confirmed by the fact that in many of these cases we 
observe no further development at all but a gradual 
absorption by other more vigorous societies and/or 
extinction. In several cases, these communities retain 
memories of a previous better state than the present one, a 
sort of past Golden Age. 

12 . Because of the issues discussed above in §§10-11, 
many wrong notions and theories have been established in 
mainstream currency regarding the rise and development of 
language, literature, religion, social relations and the like. 
A thorough reading of the RV dispels such notions and 
demands new approaches. Whether this will take place is 
another matter. Inertia is as difficult to displace as wrong¬ 
thinking. 

One new approach necessary for indological studies is 
the dismissal of the AIT in its current forms and the adoption 
of indigenism. This goes hand in hand with a new date for 
RV. This stupendous literary monument is not of 1500-1000 
BCE. The bulk of it should be assigned to the fourth 
millennium. The Harappan or Indus Valley Civilisation is a 
post-rigvedic material expression of the culture found in the 
Yajurveda and the Brahmanas. This was pointed out long ago 
by by non-indigenist indologists like the Allchins(1997, 
1982), Parpola (1988) and so on. 

This at once necessitates a complete revision of notions 
about the PIE homeland. As some papers (especially 4 and 5) 


xxxii / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

show, the urheimat was in the region of Bactria and wider 
Saptasindhu. This was pointed out by Johanna Nichols 
(1997-8) on purely comparative linguistic grounds. It was 
also proposed by A. Pictet (1859-63) back in the 19th 
century. The date of the first dispersal of the branches must 
be pushed much further back, perhaps in the 6th or the 8th 
millennium and even earlier. 

At the same time a revision of all notions about the PIE 
language will be necessitated. Again, almost all papers show 
that Sanskrit is much closer to PIE than any other branch. So 
the “democratic” approach, which has been followed 
hitherto and regards almost all major branches of equal value 
and importance laying special emphasis on Hittite as older, 
must be abandoned. In fact, all reconstructions must be 
scrapped and a new start be made with the Vedic language 
as the basis. Here, more than in any other area of human 
study, will appear inertia in all its force! 

Theories about language more generally will also need 
to be re-examined drastically and research should proceed 
having as starting point the Sanskrit dhatu and its 
development into verbal forms, nouns, adjectives etc, i.e. in 
primary and secondary derivatives (as described in ch 6). 
The PIE language from which Sanskrit descended must have 
been one of unimaginable power and subtlety, and I doubt 
whether many, if any, of us today could use it. 

The RV also upsets current notions about the beginnings 
of religion. As chapters 8 and 9 indicate, religion did not start 
with crude animism or a Sky-father-god or a Mother-earth- 
goddess. The rigvedic sages knew that all manifestations, all 
forms of divine power, are expressions of a Supreme Being, 
not male or female, and Itself remaining transcendental and 
immanent. From this developed, or to be more precise, 
descended or devolved other forms of religion, ritual, myth 
and superstition. 

Finally, we come to a consideration of man himself as a 
species. The RV suggests, as does in part the book of Genesis 


INTRODUCTION: ASPECTS OF SCHOLARSHIP / XXXiii 

in the Judaic Old Testament (and also as do some other 
traditions) that man was created perfect — except for the 
limitations of his material embodiment. He may well have 
arisen after a long process of evolution through many animal 
forms, but homo sapiens sapiens sprang into existence fully 
equipped with knowledge of himself and of the cosmos in 
complete harmony if not unity with the cosmos. For various 
reasons this beatific unity was, in course of time, lost and at 
that period man conceived of language, law and religion as 
instruments that would aid his return to that primal unity. 
These concepts, which now appear in so many fragmented 
forms, must have been complete, and perfect, right at the 
start. 





1. Sanskrit and Proto-Indo- 

European 


1. In this paper I argue that on the evidence of Sanskrit 
much of the rationale of indoeuropean comparative linguists 
may well be wrong and may need radical reconsideration: the 
three-grade ablaut (=vowel gradation) in Sanskrit, for 
example, seems much more convincing than the five-grade 
one proposed by indoeuropeanists; also the retroflex/cerebral 
consonants in Sanskrit may well have been original in Proto- 
Indo-European but lost in the other branches. I should clarify 
that with “Sanskrit” I mean Vedic as well and that although I 
consider this language (especially that of the Rgveda) to be 
closer to Proto-Indo-European than any other branch, I do not 
regard Vedic as the IE mother-tongue. In addition, the RV 
should now be placed firmly within the fourth millennium BC 
(Levitt 2003; Kazanas 2003, 1999). Edmund Leach wrote that 
after the discovery of the Indus-Sarasvatl civilization “Indo- 
European scholars should have scrapped all their historical 
reconstructions and started again from scratch. But this is not 
what happened. Vested interests and academic posts were 
involved” (1990). Although IE comparative philology has 
promoted considerably our understanding of the IE family of 
languages and although Leach’s remarks may sound too 
harsh, I agree with his main point that the “reconstructions” 
should be scrapped and a new beginning be made - if this 
pursuit is thought to be necessary. In this article I indicate 
some points where the “scrapping" can begin and at the same 
time give evidence for the much greater antiquity of Sanskrit. 

2 . In his The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo- 
European Roots C. Watkins gives three PIE roots for ‘man’ 


2 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

man , ner and wi-ro (p 51, 58, 101: all these without asterisk); 
he points out the older form of ner is *d 2 ner-and its basic 
meaning is ‘vigorous, vital, strong’. In all his derivations he 
cites Pokorny (1959), whose spelling and some conclusions 
for PIE reconstructions are now superseded, but he obviously 
has consulted many other studies although he does not cite 
more recent publications, like those of S.E. Mann (1984-7) or 
H. Rix (1998). 

Let us start with *® 2 -)ner asking ourselves if this is indeed 
the original form. To begin with, the asterisk indicates clearly 
that this word is a conjectural reconstruction and does not exist 
in any extant early language; nor is there any means at all of 
verifying the conjecture. The incautious or uninformed reader 
will perhaps (in going through Watkins’ Dictionaiy...') think 
that all those roots printed without an asterisk are genuine 
words. They are not: they are conjectural reconstructions. 
T. Burrow, the eminent sanskritist, gave a warning more than 
three decades ago: “....in the case of Indo-European it is 
certain that there was no such unitary language which can be 
reached by means of comparison... the Indo-European that we 
can reach by this means was already deeply split up into a 
series of varying dialects” (1973: 11). Although some 
comparativists feel arrogantly confident about their 
conjectural reconstructions, others do express candidly the 
uncertainty involved. Thus O. Szemerenyi, an eminent 
comparativist, admits that the reconstructions are used to 
facilitate comparisons, using one word instead of many IE 
variants, and cites Hermann’s statement that “complete forms 
(e.g *deiwos [=S deva-s ]) cannot be reconstructed at all, only 
single sounds, and even these are meant as approximation 
only” (1996: 33, my square brackets). Nonetheless, he makes 
very great efforts to “reconstruct” PIE forms and evinces 
considerable faith in these reconstructions. 

3 . The hypothetical stem *(d 2 -)ner is found in Phrygian 
and Greek a-nar/ner-, Oscan (=01d Italic) ner-um and the 
Roman name Nero , in Welsh ner , Albanian njer and Avestan 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 3 


na/nar-. Vedic has the stem ndr-a and also nr. Now according 
to the AIT (=Aryan Invasion/Immigration Theory) the Aryans 
came to Saptasindhu, ‘the land of the 7 rivers’, in N-W India 
and Pakistan, c 1700-1500 bringing their Indoaryan speech, 
which was a branch of the older Indo-Iranian (a language 
supposedly spoken by the Indoaryans and Iranians which is 
not attested anywhere but is only conjecturally 
“reconstructed” by comparative linguists). According to this, 
then, the stem nara should be very common in the RV, which 
is the oldest extant Indoaryan text, composed c 1200-900 
(always accordingto the AIT). Indeed, nara is frequent in the 
RV as is also the f nan ‘woman, wife’. But so is nr, seen 
clearly in declension: plural 2 nfn, 3 nfbhis, 4-5 nrbbyas , 
6 nrnam and 7 nrsu. 

IE linguists comment profusely on nara but hardly ever 
bother to consider the full declension of nr. Yet here we find a 
paradoxical situation. If nara is older than nr (and nr is an 
Indoaryan innovation, or whatever else, but, in any case, not 
earlier than nara), we should find in the 7?Kmore compounds 
with nara- as first member than compounds with nr. 
Fortunately, this statistical game is an easy one. There is only 
one nara -compound - narasamsa ‘men’s desire/praise’, 
epithet of Agni. On the other hand, we find numerous 
compounds of nr+ : nrcaksas- ‘watching men’, nrjit 
‘conquering men’, nftama ‘most manly’, nrpati ‘men’s lord’, 
nrpatni ‘queen’, nrbahu ‘man’s arm’, nrmadana ‘gladdening 
men’, nrvahana ‘conveying men’, etc, etc. Here one might 
argue that the older stem nara is falling into desuetude and nr 
ascends in frequency. But what we find is that compounds of 
nara increase in post-rigvedic texts: e.g. nara-kaka ‘crow-like 
man’ nara-td/tva ‘manhood’, nara-deva ‘men’s god, king’, 
naranatha and narapati ‘king’, narayana ‘mandrawn cart’, 
naradhi C-pati) ‘king’, narottama ‘best of men’, etc. Moreover 
even the forms nar-a, naiya ‘human, heroic’, nara ‘human’ 
and nan 'woman’ can be seen as primary or secondary 
derivatives of nr according to the formation of such 


4 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

derivatives by the addition of suffixes and the vowel 
gradation (r —» ar guna and dr vrddhi). Consequently, since 
there are not even traces of nar-a in any other formation to 
suggest its greater antiquity, we must take it that nr is the 
oldest form. 

4. According to the rigvedic evidence ner could not be the 
PIE primary form but only a derivative. The alleged *d 2 -ner- is 
based mainly on the Gk a-ner-. Greek is well-known for its 
tendency to prefix phonemes not found in the cognates in 
other IE branches. E.g. the common IE stem for ‘horse’ (S 
asva, L equus ) is in Gk h-ippo-s, where the double -pp- is 
explained as substitution for the v/u while p is often equivalent 
for S/L s/q, but the initial h (a rough breathing) is an addition 
since this usually corresponds to IE 5 or v and no IE cognate 
for horse has such an initial; in any case, the Mycenaean iqqo 
(much earlier form in Greece) has no h. The fact that other IE 
branches, including Avestan, have ner/nar but not nr proves 
nothing, since they do not have rat all. Szemerenyi states that 
rappears in IE branches other than Sanskrit as ar/ire tc or ra/ri 
etc (1996: 48-9). 

The stems ner/nar in the other IE branches and nr> nar- in 
Vedic are isolated: there are no cognate verbal forms 
(e.g. *narati ‘be/behave as man’) as with S bhr > bhar-ati / 
bibhar-ti, Av bara‘ti, Gr pher-ei etc ‘one bears’. The other 
branches have no other cognates of any kind, except Greek 
which has words from the stem andr- (e.g. andr(e)ia 
‘manliness, bravery’) but they are all from a period much later 
than Homer or Hesiod (GEL andr- ) and this suggests 
innovations, not original cognates. Vedic at least, apart from 
the words cited earlier, has patronymics with the normal 
vrddhi form - ndrkalpi , narsada, ndrayana etc. This is the 
aspect of the organic coherence of a language whereby roots 
generate primary stems of verbal forms in conjugation or 
nominal forms in declension and also secondary derivatives. 
In Vedic, more than any other language, this unfolds fairly 
regularly through ablaut, i.e. the graded change of the vowel 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 5 


in the root, or in the primary stem, and the addition of affixes 
and terminations. Thus, as is observable and as the NIGT 
(=native Indian grammatical tradition) holds, the simple vowel 
r is transformed into its guna grade ar and its vrddhi grade ar 
for primary and secondary derivatives respectively. Note that 
IEL (=Indo-European Linguistics) does recognise this general 
process of ablaut and does take it into account but evaluates it 
differently and does not give to the organic coherence of a 
language the importance it deserves. (We shall return to this.) 

5 . Let us now examine the verb ‘to bear (=carry, bear 
children)’. Here too IEL gives as root *bher and regards bhr as 
“zero grade”, i.e. a falling off (=derivative or devolute) from 
the root proper. Different cognates are found in Olr berid, Gth 
baira, L fer-, Alb bie, Gr pher-, Phr ab-ber-et, Arm her, SI 
here, Av bar- and Toch A/B par. Vedic has both bhar- and 
bhr-. Here bhar- is in many words: bhar-a ‘bearing, what-is- 
borne’, bhar-ana ‘the act of bearing’, bhar-ata ‘to be 
supported’ (epithet for Agni), bhar-tr ‘bearer, husband, lord’ 
etc; also bhara ‘load’, bharata ‘sprung from Bharata’ (also for 
Agni), etc. The stem bhar- is common in verbal forms also: bi- 
bhar-ti, bhar-ati ‘one bears’, etc. But we find also bhrt in 
compounds like isu-bhrt ‘arrow-bearing’, bhrta ‘borne’, bhr-ti 
'maintenance’, etc. All these are regular formations and many 
parallels can be cited from other dhatus like kr, dhr, vr. etc. 
There are also verbal forms: bibhrtas, bibhrhi, ja-bhrse, 
jar-bhrtas, etc. 

Unlike nr which has no verbal forms, bhr is a full dhatu 
according to the NIGT and is conjugated as a verb also. As 
such, it is conjugated in two modes, as class I (thematic) and as 
class III (or reduplicating, where the reduplication itself need 
not detain us). The class I bharati ‘bears’ is quite regular 
taking the affix -a- in the stem before the terminations (hence 
‘theme’ and ‘thematic’: bhar-a-ti); since the stem or theme 
remains bhar-a unchanged before the terminations, it has not 
much to reveal. Again many parallels can be cited, like jarati, 
dharati etc. The class III formations reveal the important 



6 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

aspect of ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ forms or persons. Strong are the 
three persons in the singular indicative and imperative of the 
present (and some others) and weak are the three in the dual 
and plural ind and impv pres (and others). The strong persons 
have the stem bhar- and the weak bhr- : thus bi-bhar-ti (ind) 
‘bears’ (strong) and bi-bhr-tam (impv) ‘do bear, you two’ 
(weak). There are not many verbs in class III but Vsr ‘flowing’ 
provides parallels: st-sar-ti (ind) ‘flows’ (strong) and si-sr-tdm 
(impv) ‘do flow, you two’ (weak). As is observable and as the 
NIGT holds, the strong stem has the guna form ar of the 
radical vowel while the weak one has the simple vowel 
unchanged (or zero-grade in IEL, which with some verbs 
shows the loss of the radical vowel altogether). 1 After 
discussing accent and strong and weak stems in the verb 
(S Vz > eti, Gk doric eiti, L it ‘goes’), Szemerenyi, indeed, 
states that the “OInd [=Sanskrit] paradigm continues the Indo- 
European almost without change” (p 315). We can extend this 
judgement to many other aspects of these languages, e.g. bhr. 
Consequently, here too, as with nr, the stem bhr- is in fact the 
original root-form V bhr and bhar- derivative. 

6. Yet Szemerenyi, as almost the entire IEL, regards the 
strong or guna grade as “the basic form”. And because this 
issue is crucial I quote him in full: 

“With regard to the ablaut alternations, it is in the first place clear that 
loss of the basic vowel is connected with the position of the accent. 
Forms like Skt. as-mi‘ I am’: s-anti ‘they are’ from IE *es-mv. *s-enti 
(cf. Dor. rj/j .1 -.dvTt, Gth im: ind, OCS esmi: SQtu) can only be 


1 The term zero or nil grade seems more fitting for this syncopation or loss of 
vowel (which the NIGT regards as lopa, temporary ‘disappearance’ adarsana : 
P 1,1, 60): e.g. 'Ida ‘giving’ > da-da-ti ‘one gives’ (strong), da-t-tam (impv) ‘do 
give, you two’ (weak syncopated and sandhi of d > Zbefore -Z). The radical a, being 
already strong (vrddhi grade of a), remains in the strong persons but disappears in 
the weak ones leaving only da-d- (dad-mas‘we give’, etc). A full discussion of this 
aspect and of accent, which early on was musical, would take us too far away. 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 7 


understood on the assumption that the root *es- lost e and became 
s in the plural because of the shift of the accent from the root to the 
ending (cf. also Skt. 1st pi. s-mas, 2nd pi. s-tha from IE *s-mes, 
*s-t(h)e, in any case, one can only reach s- from es- and not vice 
versa. 

This is important, because the Indian grammarians in their theory of 
vowel gradation started from the zero grade as the basic form and 
accounted for the other two grades as arising from it by successive 
additions of a\ thus basic grade dis- ‘show’, guna (‘secondary 
quality’) des- < *d-a-is-, and vrddhi (‘increase’) dais-<*d-a-a-is-. 
In fact, the only possible basic form is the full grade, the guna -grade 
of the Indians, even if in isolated cases a zero grade can acquire a 
new full grade formed on the analogy of existing alternations. 

Note here (a) The importation of conjectural forms marked 
with asterisk * (even S *da-is = dis with guna > des-). (b) It is 
probably true that the initial a- was lost eventually in the 
weak persons because it remained unaccented (e.g. s-vas, s-mas 
etc) but there is a trace of it in 2nd sing impv edht (ultimately 
< *a-s-hi ?). (c) More important, Szemerenyi should not have 
used as an example these forms, since they are different from 
the examples of V dis->des - (and the examples we have 
examined so far) and, above all, the Indian grammarians gave 
not x as the basic form or root for this verb ‘to be’ but 'las. 
(d) He calls the guna grade “full grade” whereas for the NIGT 
the guna grade is middle and the “full” is vrddhi. 2 

7 . The root bhr must also have been PIE like nr. 
Indoeuropeanists class rasa “syllabic liquid” and accept it 
(as well as 1 and their long forms) as PIE (Szemerenyi, p 48-9; 
Baldi 1982: 16). However, they rarely cite a root with r (except 
*krd- ‘heart). They prefer to cite the conjectural stems *ner- 


2 Here I may be unfair to Szemerenyi as I have consulted only his 
publication in the English translation but not the German original, where he 
may be using a different adjective. However, “full” in this context could 
hardly be other than German voll. 



8 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

*bher- , *kerd (=heart), *dher- (= S idhr > dhar-') and so on, 
perhaps because die r is not attested as a phoneme (in contrast 
to the common r) in any early IE language other than Sanskrit 
(not even in Avestan, its closest relative, or in the allegedly 
earlier Hittite). On the other hand, the NIGT treats r generally 
like the other simple vowels a, f, u. Even Western grammars 
of Sanskrit present r as the vowel of the retroflex or cerebral 
Q=murdhanyd) sequence of phonemes and / as that of the dental 
family (dantya ). Now, whether we call r “vowel” or “syllabic 
liquid”, the fact remains that in Sanskrit it behaves generally like 
a simple vowel and appears in dhatus, in nominal and verbal 
stems and even in a suffix like -tr which generates numerous 
nouns of agency or relationship: as-tr ‘thrower’, jostr 
‘cherisher’, dhdtr ‘established, bbartr ‘supporter, husband’, 
matr ‘mother’, etc. 

8 . Unlike r which is very common, 1 is found only in the 
few derivatives of Aklp ‘preparing’. We find l in weak verbal 
forms ca-klp-ur ‘they have prepared’, ‘ a-ci-klp-at ‘one 
prepared’ (redupl aor), etc, the ppp klp-ta ‘prepared’, often 
adjectival, and in the f noun k-lpti ‘preparation’: both the ppp (- 
k-ta in NIGT) and the abstract feminines with the suffix -ti are 
formed without ablaut, though some other changes in the root 
may occur; in some cases we find a weakening of the vowel as 
in V sth-a > sthita, sthiti. This phoneme is even rarer than the 
long r, which appears in some dhatus (kf, tf, pf, etc) 3 and in the 
acc and gen pi of nouns in -tr: astfn ‘throwers’, pitfn ‘fathers’, 
astfnam ‘of throwers’, pitrnam ‘of fathers’. In fact the long f 
of dhatus is not retained even in conjugational forms where we 
would expect it, i.e. in weak persons: thus from Vpf ‘filling’ 
as class III, we have the regular strong stem pl-par-tu (impv) 
‘let one fill’, but the weak stem is pi-pr-tdm (impv) ‘let the 
two fill’ and as class IX Vpf has only weak grade pr-natu ‘let 


3 These are so given in the Dhatupatha and some Western 
publications (e.g. MSDandMacdonell’s Vedic Grammar for Students) 
but other Western books give these dhatus with short r(e.g. Whitney’s 
Roots, Verbforms ...) or not at all (e.g. Mayrhofer 1956-). 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 9 


one fill’, where the strong person is denoted by both the affix 
-na-, and the ending -tu and pr-+mtam ‘let the two fill’, 
where the weak person is denoted by both the affix -ni- and 
the ending tam. 

Naturally, one wonders why l is so very rare and long / 
appears only in the specific cases mentioned, while long l does 
not appear at all. But before we look for a plausible reason, we 
should examine the important aspect of the nature of vowels 
and the basic principles of sounding them in practice. 

9. We said that r is the vowel of the murdhanya family 
and / of the dantya. Similarly a is the vowel of the velar or 
guttural kanthya, i of the palatal talavya and u of the labial 
osthya family. The vowels may seem easy to pronounce but 
this appearance is deceptive. Even the short a requires much 
attention actually. The sounds that ordinarily, in everyday use, 
pass for a are in fact many different versions or shades of a, 
many more than the sounds heard in the English words sat, 
shut, Sarah, sofa, or shaft - leaving aside any regional 
varieties; the variant spelling of dispatch and despatch shows 
one of several difficulties regarding i- the difficulties with u are 
less obvious (but seen in German buck ‘book’, biicher 
‘books’). 

By definition, any and every vowel svara should sound of 
itself, as it were, riding on the air coming out of the mouth, for 
as long as the outbreathing lasts and without losing its 
brightness and specific quality. The a is comparatively simple: 
we open the mouth keeping the jaws apart and the tongue 
relaxed and flat, without strain, and let the sound a emerge. In 
fact, when we experiment, we note that another sound that can 
arise, when we desire to hear sound, is the hissing “h-h-h” of 
the out-breath as the air travels through the open mouth; but 
there is also a slight movement of the back of the tongue 
constricting the opening. This is probably the basis of the 
three usman ‘sibilants’, the visarga h and ha (classed as 
kanthya). When we desire to hear our breath-sound or to 
make it ‘voiced’, the vocal chords vibrate and so arises a, of 
itself: there is no other movement, except the vibration of the 


10 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

vocal chords. We can prolong this sound -for the duration of 
the outgoing breath but in order to keep it clear, bright and 
resonant, we must attend so that there is no movement of jaws, 
lips or tongue. The process sounds, and is, simple enough, but, 
surprisingly, as singers know well, it requires practice. From 
this prolonged sound a 3 3T ? one can arrive at the short 
measure, then the long. 

I experimented personally for very long periods over the 
years. I also experimented with many people of both sexes and 
of various ages: most of them were non-linguists and so totally 
free of preconceived notions of how phonemes arise. 

To obtain prolated (prolonged or protracted: pluta) q ^ 
the start is the same as with a-, jaws and lips apart and tongue 
flat and relaxed. But now, for i the tongue arches upward 
towards the palate without touching it and the a changes, of 
itself, without any other effort, into i- even if one thinks of a or 
any other sound, so long as there is no change in the vocal 
machinery, there will be ^ i- but a sound different from and 
much fuller than the variety of i used ordinarily. Then one 
finds the short and long measures . Thereafter with a slight 
change in the position of the arched tongue, the sound 
? becomes efr This is long - if it is to retain its pure quality, its 
clarity and brightness. A short measure of this becomes 
indeterminate, something between e and a, which may be 
denoted by the phonetic symbol [3], 

The u 3 is obtained by a similar yet different process. 
Here the jaws are again apart and the tongue flat but the lips 
close down without joining. Now the a becomes u. Again, one 
finds the short measure and double that gives the long u "3>. 
From u, the o>3Tt is easily obtained. 

The phonemes ai and au 3lt are definitely diphthongs. 
As such they are naturally long. 

MacDonell states that o and e “stand for the original genuine 
diphthongs ai and au ” and gives various explanations 
in the usual IEL line of thinking, including some cases of 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN /II 


sandhi (pp 4-5). This may be right. But I have strong doubts 
about it all because in moving from a 3 to i 3 one hears first the 
sound e just before i arises and in moving from a 3 to u ? the 
sound o arises before u. Thus e and o are natural vowels and 
not the result of a+i and a+u. The sounds have to do with full 
or restricted opening of the back or the front of the mouth — 
even though for grammatical or phonetic analysis the 
(misleading) notation of a+VCoweY) has been adopted 
generally. 

The vowels r and / are more difficult. While if attention is 
given, a, i, u can be quite stable in their individual quality and 
their fluidity, the rand /are difficult to maintain. Theoretically 
r should emerge out of a when, with the mouth open, the tip 
of the tongue moves towards the front hard palate, where the 
corresponding murdhanya consonants are produced with 
contact. In my long and varied experiments, I could not 
maintain its clarity and brightness; even the short r tended, if 
the attention wavered, to become a different sound - 
something like the syllables ri or ru. Theoretically again, l 
should be obtained with the rise of the tip of the tongue 
towards the teeth or the end-part of the upper gum: this proved 
extremely difficult without some contact or without some 
additional movement of the back of the tongue. Today, it is 
usually pronounced as Iri and is said to correspond to / 
representing an original r (MacDonell following the RV 
Pratisakhya, p. 15). Whatever it was in distant antiquity, today 
it is a mercurial sound, sometimes bright, sometimes dark. 

10 . One of the greatest difficulties in these experiments 
was to persuade people to keep their jaws apart and then 
move the tongue (or lips) as required. Be it noted that in 
Modern Greek we have no talavya sounds nor murdhanya, 
except for the vowels i and e, the semivowel ra and the 
hybrids -ts-, -dz- and -ks- (though on the islands of Crete and 
Cyprus a sort of palatal sa is common). People have generally 
become too lazy and consequently produce all kinds of 


12 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

variant, imprecise sounds. This would appear to be the cause 
of sound changes in language. The words good, water and 
understand, to take some examples, are spelled alike in all 
English-speaking countries but each one is pronounced quite 
differently in different parts of Britain, the USA, Canada, 
Australia, etc. 

11 . The difficulty of maintaining clear rand / was, I think, 
the reason that these sounds are not so common in Sanskrit 
and are totally absent in the writing of the other IE languages, 
when these emerge with literacy in historic times. The long I 
is totally absent even in the RV. The long f, present in Vpf 
filling and Vsf ‘crushing’, does not appear in any of their 
derivatives. The Dhatupatha could easily have given them 
as Vpf and Vsf (i.e. with short f), like kr ‘making’ or sr 
‘flowing’. Since it does not, we must assume that radical long 
r was a reality and of significance, even though derivatives 
having it (if they ever existed) were not preserved. 

The NIGT separates rand /from a, i, u, as is obvious in the 
mahesvara-sutras ( a-i-u-n and r-l-k), and this seems right. 
Perhaps their instability, or their different nature at any rate, 
was recognised. Modern linguists also separate them and call 
them “syllabic liquids” rather than “vowels” (although they 
have no “liquidity” in the strict meaning of the word). 

12 . The vowel gradation or ablaut, which was mentioned 
earlier in §4 in respect of r -> dr, holds also for a, i, u and l. A 
Thus i -» e —> ai, u o -> au and / al h> dl. As P. Baldi, 
another indoeuropeanist of note, sums it up: “the guna form is 
made by adding an a to the simple vowel; the vrddhi form is 
made by adding a to the guna form” (1983: 56). But this 

4 With r, my experiments showed the obvious. When I sounded 
the prolonged r, if I added a, the result was naturally ra. To put the a 
into the r I had to obtain a first and this meant that the tip of the tongue 
had to be swiftly lowered back to the flat position, then swiftly again 
up to the rposition: this, of course, gave ar, and another measure of a 
gave the vrddhi dr. Similarly, a measure of a into / gave al and 
another one gave dl. 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 13 


“adding” can be misleading; for if we add a to i we get i- a —> 
ya. The “adding” is more of an infusion of a into i (giving e) 
and then into e (giving ai). There is nothing theoretical about 
this. As we saw in §9 it is a fairly natural process with 
i —> e —> ai and u -» o —> au. What of a ? 

With the simple a the situation is different. An additional 
input of a will simply prolong the short a making it long a 3TT. 
In the actual Sanskrit language the short a is both radical or 
primary grade and guna grade in conjugation and declension: 
contrast Acit ‘perceiving’ > cet-ati, ^ Icet-as and V jan 
‘generating’ > jan-ati, jan-as (RVW, 2, 4). This is clear enough 
in Paninf s sutra I, 1, 2, ad-engunah ‘a, e and oare guna’. But 
it may be that the much discussed final sutra of Panini’s 
Astddhyayl VIII, 4, 68, 3T 3T refers to this situation suggesting 
that short a remains short a in both the simple radical vowel 
and the guna grade; or that the radical a was originally what is 
today termed “schwa”, the [ae] as in an or map , or an 
indeterminate short phoneme like the [3] of sof-a - which is 
what IEL has opted for. The post-Paninean NIGT talks of 
samvrta ‘closed’ and vivrta ‘open’ a. It is a great pity that 
Panini, the great master himself, did not say more. 

13. The ablaut is fully accepted by linguists as a regular 
phenomenon in the “reconstructed” PIE language. Unlike the 
three grades of Sanskrit, the PIE is said to have five and these 
appear as changes of quality, that is changes of vowels from 
one to another family. These are not attested in any regular 
sequence in any IE branch. However, Szemerenyi presents 
(p. 84) one (highly disordered) example from Greek, related 
to pater ‘father’: 

i) pa-ter-a (acc sing), where -ter- shows e (a short vowel 
to be distinguished from Sanskrit e!) as the basic or full grade. 

ii) eu-pa-tor-a (acc sing!), where -tor- shows the o grade 
(i.e. omicron, short o). But note that this too is acc sing of 
eu-pa-tor ‘good father’ (see v), a noun belonging to a 
different declension, as we shall see below. (Distinguish 
Gk o/o and So!) 


14 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

iii) pa-tr-ds (gen sing), where -tr- shows the zero or nil 
grade: here there is syncopation or loss of the vowel ( lopa in 
NIGT). 

iv) pa-ter (nom sing), where -ter shows the long-vowel 
(i.e. e) grade. 

v) eu-pa-tor (nom sing! ‘good father’: see ii), where -tor 
shows the long 6 grade (that is o-mega). 

I do not know where the eminent linguist would place Gk 
eu-pa-teir-a (nom sing, f ‘she of a noble father’). It could be 
another basic one since the example tei-po ‘I quit, depart’ is 
given as basic (same p. 84); or it could be long-vowel grade 
since the diphthong ei is long. Be that as it may (even a sixth 
grade?), Szemerenyi admits that “not all grades are attested for 
every root” (p. 84). He also states “Very often only full grade 
[i.e. the vowel e], o-grade and zero grade are attested” 
(p. 84), i.e. only three grades. For this he gives the following 
examples: 

a) leip-6 (pres) le-loip-a (perf) e-Up-on (aor) ‘leave, 
depart’; 

b) derk-omai (pres) de-do rk-a (perf) e-dra-kon (aor) 
‘perceive’ (cf S drs)\ 

c) pe nth-os (neut, nom/acc sing) pe-ponth-a (perf) 
e-path-on ‘grieve’. 

Here we notice that we have quite different vowel 
sequences, even diphthongs, and in the zero grade we have 
no loss or syncopation but a vowel {-lip-, -path-). 

In subsequent pages (85-6), Szemerenyi gives more 
examples made up from different words and even languages 
(Gk a-melg-o, L mulg-eo and S mrs-ta, mars-ti ‘milk’). He 
also gives examples from Gothic and Old High German 
where all one can see clearly is that there are different 
sequences of vowels (short, long) and diphthongs without 
any general ordered pattern. 

14. There is something incredibly wrong with 
Szemerenyi’s methodology. First, the five examples are 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 15 


made up from two different stems: pater and eu-pd-tor are 
inflected quite differently (see §17)! Thus we have two 
different vowels in each of the pairs of acc sing -e in (i) 
and -o- unaccented in (ii), and in each of the pairs of nom 
sing, - e- in (iv) and -6- unaccented in (v); and if we had the 
vocative for eupator we would see that the vowel here also 
is different -e- and o (again, see §17). The inflexion of 
eu-pa-tor is streamlined, taking the short, unaccented -o- 
throughout all cases except nom sing. 

Second, there is only one example of each of the other 
three in Greek. Paradigms (a) and (b) are tenses of verbs but 
paradigm (c) has a noun and two tenses of the related verb 
(because, no doubt, this verb has present tense not with this 
very stem but with the stem pasch-'). 

Third, in all three examples we see a change of vowel- 
quality from “full” to o-grade but example (a) is a diphthong 
(- ei- and -oz'-) whereas (b) and (c) have short -e- and -o- 
As for the zero grade, (a) has -z-, (b) has complete loss of 
vowel (i .e.-dr-) and (c) has - a-, even though examples 
(b) and (c) have the same vowels in the full grade and 
o-grade; complete loss of vowel in (c) would be difficult 
since a conjunct *p-nth is unpronounceable, but it would not 
be so with -Ip- since Greek has helpis ‘hope’, and melpo 
praise in song’ etc. So no operating consistent law is 
evident. 

Fourth, other verbs with full grade -ei- in the present 
stem have no -oi- or -o- in the perfect (sometimes nowhere): 
e.g. aJetph-o ‘anoint’ with perf al-e-liph-\ egeir-o ‘wake, get 
up’ has for perf both -ger- and -gor-. klei-6 : (klei-d: stem 
kleF, KleF, klaF?) ‘close’ with perfect stems ke-klei- and 
keklei--, peith-o (weak stem pith-) ‘persuade’ with perf 
pe-pei- (GEI ) but in the Middle Voice, yes, pe-poi- ‘I am 
confident, persuaded’; pein-o] ‘I am hungry’ with perf pe- 
pein- (GEL)-, phtheir-o ‘destroy, corrupt’ with perf e-phthar- 
(only Aeolic pres phtherro > perf part active e-phthor-). 



1 6 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

So here again, no regular law is operating. IEL gives no 
explanation for these differences. 

Fifth, many verbs have -6- or -ou- in the present stem, 
which, according to examples (b) and (c) should have full 
grade -e-\ e.g. akou-o ‘hear’, akro-d- (late) ‘harken’, aro-o 
‘plough’, blosk-o ‘go, come’, bo-a-o ‘shout’, go-a-o ‘groan’, 
dok-e-6 ‘think’, kopt-o ‘cut’, krou-o (late) ‘strike’, lou-o 
(Jo-e-o) ‘wash’ etc., etc. Many of these have the vowel -o (or 
-ou-) in the perf stem as well. 

Sixth, many verbs have the same stem-vowel in both 
present and perfect (and some in all or most tenses): are-sk-o 
‘make good’ perf ar-e-re-ka\ deik-nu-mi/ -knu-o (Ion dek-, 
Cret dik-) ‘show forth’ perf -deich--, lu-6 ‘loose-n’ perf le-lu- 
ka\ pne(i)-6 (stem pneF/pneu -) perf pe-pneu etc., etc. 

From all this mass of data certain forms are selected, are 
given an arbitrary order and thus presented as ablaut or vowel 
gradation. The facts show various series of vowelchanges (and 
sometimes none) in different tenses - that is all. This may be 
called “ablaut”, but no general and constant laws emerge 
governing these changes. Unlike the changes in Sanskrit, 
these are haphazard and confused. 

15- Much is made of the change in Greek of the verb- 
stem (usually called “root”) vowel -e- to the noun-stem vowel 
-o-. This may be the basis for the notion of ablaut in Greek, 
since this, certainly, seems to have greater regularity than the 
vowel changes in the verb-forms. Undoubtedly, here we see 
many examples where the stem of m nouns has -o- while the 
verb-stem has -e-\ e.g. del-eazo ‘entice’ and dol-os ‘bait’, leg- 
6 ‘say’ and log-os ‘speech’, treph-o ‘feed’ and troph-os 
‘feeder’ (m and f), trech-6 ‘run’ and troch-os ‘wheel’, pher-o 
‘bear’ and phor-os ‘tribute’, etc. A similar change occurs with 
f nouns in -e-. e.g. men-o ‘stay’ > mon-e ‘abiding’, nem-6 
‘allot, graze’ > nom-e ‘distribution, pasturage’ (m nom-os 
‘usage, law’), pne(i)-o ‘blow, breathe’ > pno-e ‘blast, 
breath’, etc. 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 17 


However, even this situation is not clear-cut. While the 
feminines are certain (except very few like phu-g-e ‘flight’ 
< pheug-o ‘flee’), several masculines of this class have an -e- 
: gel-ao ‘laugh’ > gel-os ‘laughter’, de-o ‘bind’ > de-s-mos, xe- 
5 ‘plane off, polish’ > xe-s-mos ‘abrasion’; then, there are 
others that do not seem to have a primary cognate verb: e.g. 
zel-os ‘zeal, jealousy’, nek-r-ds ‘corpse’, xen-os ‘guest, 
stranger’, etc.; with such masculines the cognate verbs zel- 
66, nek-rod, xen-oo are derivatives, though the stem nek- has 
a cognate > Inas- in Sanskrit. Moreover, most of these verbs 
with an 

e-stem have neuters ending in -ma or -os with unaltered stem- 
vowel: e.g. deo ‘bind’ > de-ma ‘band, rope’ (also de-s-ma 
‘bond’, like m. de-s-mos ‘bond’); zeug-nu-mi ‘yoke’ > zeug-os 
‘pair’ (and m/h zug-o- ‘yoke, cross-bar’); lepo ‘peel’ > lep-os 
‘husk’; pneo > pneu-ma ‘air, breath’; etc. 

From the point of view of our discussion, one of the more 
interesting cases is the verb che-o ‘pour out’ (PIE the root 
being given as *gheu by IEL). This has for its perfect stem 
(active and passive) ke-chu-. We find the f cho-e ‘drink- 
offering’ and m choos/ choeus / chous ‘a measure of capacity’ 
(and chous ‘soil’) and neut cheu-ma; but also m. chu-l-ds and 
chu-m-ds ‘juice, flavour’, n. chu-ma ‘what flows’ and f. chu- 
sis ‘act of pouring’; also f. chu-tra and m. chu-tros ‘earthen 
pot’ (Ion ku-thra, ku-thros). Similar, though not quite so 
productive, is rhe-o ‘flow’ with perf stem erh-rhu-e-ka, 
the normal f. rho-e ‘flowing, stream’, m. rho-os (Cypriot rho- 
F-os, Attic rhous ) ‘current’ and n. rheu-ma ‘what flows, 
stream’; but also m. rhu-ax ‘torrent’ and rhu-as (adj) ‘fluid’. 
(Both che-o and rhe-o with the stems -chu- and -rhu- are 
cognate with S'lhu> ju-ho-ti ‘sacrifice, pour butter’ and Vsru > 
srava-ti ‘flow’: see also nil, vii & viii.) Here again we see no 
regular law operating. 

16. All the disparate Greek linguistic elements that have 
been examined in the preceding sections seem to me to be 



18 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

decays and corruptions. Any semblance of order is the result 
of innovation through analogy and assimilation. As in all 
languages, the frequent exceptions to the many “regular” 
phenomena show precisely that the apparent “order” is not 
original or genuine. We must not forget that Greek appears in 
many dialects some of which have left very little early written 
evidence. The variants ch-u-tra / k-u-thra are interesting in 
showing the same vowel but different consonants. Greek is on 
the whole unreliable. 

From all these disparate elements that exhibit no truly 
ordered pattern in any one organically connected group of 
words (verbs and nouns), the latest IEL concludes that there 
must have been five grades of ablaut. This is entirely arbitrary 
and we are not told what principles govern these changes and 
what vowel grade should appear in what form of cognate 
nouns and verbs. So let us explore another aspect. 

17. Although Szemerenyi hyphenates thus pa-ter-a, he 
obviously takes pa-te(e)-r as the root. So do others, including 
Watkins, who gives as root IE pdter- (without asterisk, as 
though this form is attested) and also the “oldest form 
*pd 2 tef. But pater/pd 2 ter- is not strictly a “root” since Greek 
and Sanskrit (and other IE branches) have other similarly 
formed nouns, i.e. with the suffix -ter : thus Gk me-ter 
‘mother’, gas-ter ‘belly’ (also gas-tr-a/e ‘paunch’), etc. The 
morpheme -ter- is (or represents an older form of) a suffix 
which gives agent-/relationnouns (like the Sanskrit -tr-). Greek 
has in addition do-ter ‘giver’, zos-ter ‘belt’, kran-ter 
‘accomplished, etc., but also do-tor ‘giver’, eupa-tor ‘good 
father’, etc., all of which are inflected differently from pa-ter. 
All these nouns are in fact derivatives and the “root” is strictly 
the initial morpheme -pa/pd, me-, gas-, do-, etc. So the ablaut 
occurs not in the root but in the suffix, which is the 
termination of the stem (or theme) of the noun(s) formed 
from the root(s) 5 . The following Table shows the declension 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 19 


in the singular of two Sanskrit nouns and three Greek ones 
and their similarities and differences: 



SI 

S2 

Gkl 

Gk2 

Gk3 


Nom 

neta 

pita 

pater 

doter 

dotor 

strong 

Voc 

netar 

pitar 

pater 

doter 

dotor 

» 

Acc 

netaram 

pitaram 

patera 

dotera 

dotora 

» 

Inst. 

netra 

pitra 

- 

- 

- 

weak 

Dat 

netre 

pitre 

patri 

doteri 

dotori 

» 

Abl 

netuh 

pituh 

- 




Gen 

» 

» 

*pateros doteros dotoros 

» 



*(in Epic; patros 

in later Attic) 


Loc 

netari 

pitari 

- 

- 

- 

» 


i) We ignore the presence in Sanskrit of the three cases 
absent in Greek. Some traces of these are found in Greek also 
and many more in the other IE languages - thus confirming 
that the eight Sanskrit cases are PIE. 

ii) In Greek we find two variants {-ter and -tor) 
corresponding to the one Sanskrit suffix -tr. 

iii) The Sanskrit nouns show no syncopation: the stem in 
the inst and dat is the weak pitr where the -r- replaces its own 
vowel r before the terminations -a and -e of the two cases. So, 
apart from the locative which shows unexpectedly a 
strengthened stem pitar-, the cases (as in the dual and plural 
also) exhibit strong {-tar) and weak {-tr) stem very regularly. 
The abl and gen ending -uh {=ur/s) is also odd in that it should 


5 IE linguists give *pd as the PIE root for Gk and Latin pa-ter and S pi-tar -: 
this may be right but cannot be verified and there is no other evidence to corroborate 
it. S has no dhatu pa and the NIGT derivespz'-frfrom Vpa ‘protecting’. So Sanskrit 
either had a root pa which was lost or the radical vowel of Vpa suffered a severe 
and most irregular change - unlike the nouns da-trhom V da, dha-trhom V dha, 
ma-tr from Vzwa; in any case "\/pa does generate pa-tr ‘defender', pa-yu 
‘protector’, etc. 



20 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

be *ne-tr-as (<netr +as), but we find in Old Norse fgdur ‘of 
father’ and the close variant of Avestan ending -3 2 ds. 6 So this 
apparent irregularity may have been already established 
in PIE. 

iv) The two Sanskrit nouns show variations only in the 
one strong case, acc, where the agent-noun has long -a- and 
the relation-noun short -a-. This holds for all agent-nouns 
( kartr , datr, dhatr etc.) and all relation-nouns ( duhitr , mdstr, 
svasr, etc,). This vowel difference may be a chance event or 
may deliberately reflect the difference between the two 
nouncategories. 

v) In Greek there is a third variant termination -tor with yet 
again different inflexions. (Compare Latin vic-tor and magis- 
ter.) Moreover, Greek has many more stems in -er (not -ter) 
that are inflected like pater : e.g. a-er ‘mist, air’, aither 
‘ether’, an-er ‘man’ without syncopation in the Epics and 
with syncopation containing -d-\ gen an-e-ros and an-d-ros, 
etc.; also nouns in -or (not -tor) like ich-or ‘ichor’, pel-or 
‘prodigy, monster’, etc. 

vi) The Sanskrit paradigms show greater regularity and 
reasonableness than the Greek ones - except for the curious 
strengthened locative. 

vii) Paradigms in other languages show complete 
regularisation and loss of the distinction strong-weak: e.g. 
Latin has mater nom and matr- in all other cases and Old 
Slavic mati nom and mater- in all other cases. And Szemerenyi 
states “This distribution [i.e. strong/weak cases] is ...preserved 
only in Old Indie and partially in Greek” (p. 171). 

ix) The inevitable conclusion is that, again, Sanskrit is 
much closer to PIE. Yet IEL holds that Sanskrit, which in so 
many other respects, even by IEL, preserves PIE elements and 
forms more faithfully, lost the original vowels e and 6 (and 


6 It is very difficult to see how the termination - tras could be corrupted 
into -tur. The IE linguists’ supposed original *-ros for gen sing is entirely 
conjectural and as such valueless. 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 21 


original diphthongs ei, eu, oi, ou and at). This story is long, 
starting with K. Brugmann (1897-) who proposed that to the 
three Sanskrit a, i, u vowels should be added those found in 
Greek also. Baldi sums up the situation: “in the history of 
Sanskrit there occurred a change in the vowel system that had 
a monumental effect on the overall structure of that system: in 
Sanskrit the Indo-European vowels *e, *6, *a all merged 
together as a”. This description is so entirely hypothetical as 
to be (in an impartial court of Law) valueless. First, the history 
of Sanskrit prior to the RV is totally unknown. Second, in the 
RV and subsequent texts there is no trace of e or 5 as there are 
traces of other elements in other IE branches that are fully 
evident in Sanskrit, like rand /, roots and terminations, accent, 
strong-weak persons and cases, etc. Finally, the existence of 
e and 6 etc. in PIE is asserted only on the evidence of Greek 
and other IE branches which are on the whole far more 
distanced from PIE than Sanskrit and show too many losses 
and corruptions in all other aspects; consequently their 
evidence is unreliable and the PIE “reconstructed” system is, 
in any case, based on tiers of conjectures. It could well be that 
e, 5 etc. are not original but devolutes or corruptions of an 
original a. After all there are many phonemes in modern IE 
languages (th in the or thin, zin zoo etc.) that are not regarded 
as PIE. 

S.S. Misra pertinently pointed out that until now “no 
evidence... is available that Proto-Indo-European a, e, o (as 
reconstructed by Brugmann etc.) have merged [into a] in 
India”(1992: 81). What Misra meant is that the IEL 
“evidences” are assertions of faith based on arbitrary 
reconstructions. On the contrary, he took examples from the 
Gypsy language which is IE and came out of India (Hock 
1996; Fraser 1995: chs 1-2) showing how original a became e 
and o. For cOo he cites but few examples: S smasru ‘beard’ > 
Gyp sosa; S sasa ‘hare’ > Gyp sosoi\ S mardati ‘opress, 
overcome’ > Gyp morel ‘rule’. Many more are cited for a>e: 
S khara 'donkey’, jana ‘person, people’, dasa ‘ten’, divasa 



22 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

‘day’, dhar-ati ‘holds’, nava ‘new’ became in Gyp kher, jeno 
(cf GK genos), des (cf Gk deka, L decern ), dives, nevo (cf 
Gk neFo-), etc. He might have cited also a similar process of 
a,>e/o from Old English to New (noting the current 
pronunciation rather than the spelling): bald-> bold; bapian> to 
bathe; faran> to fare; /raw>from; hal-> hail; ham> home; 
haP-YioV, etc. Such changes in English may well have been 
produced by the heavy infusion of the Norman language after 
the Conquest in 1066 but, nonetheless, we see that it is not 
easy to maintain a simple a and a in speech, despite 
(widespread) literacy. 

Let us now turn to the consonants. We shall examine the 
so-called labio-velars which IEL postulates for PIE and the 
retroflex or cerebral stops which are present in Sanskrit but are 
not at all recognised as PIE by IEL and are regarded as 
intrusions from non-IE languages. (The AIT of course ascribes 
them to “natives” whose speech converged with Indoaryan - 
so Hock 1996 - and gave the celebrals to Sanskrit.) 

18. The Sanskrit phonological system has unique 
regularity. The five places of articulation engender not only 
vowels but also various types of consonants combining the 
sound of breath and of voice. (I shall not examine the nasals 
because this issue would take us too far.) Thus this highly 
ordered phonology has five vowels and five sequences or 
families of consonants each corresponding to a vowel. The 
velar/guttural kcinthya family (corresponding to 3T a) has 
"37 ka, HT kha, n ga, tT gha, where the first is a mute sound, the 
second mute aspirate, the third voiced and the fourth voiced 
aspirate (the second and fourth being called mahaprana). 
Similarly the tdlavya ‘palatal’ family (vowel i) has ca, 
cha, "3T ja and H jha. Similar too is the third family (vowel r) 
murdhanya ‘retroflex/cerebral’: ta, tha,da and n dha. 
We find similar families for dentals ( ta, tha, da, dha ) and 
labials (pa, pha, ba, bha). 

In adding an -a to every consonant I follow the NIGT and 
not the modern IEL which persists in presenting these 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 23 


phonemes without the -a. The reason is very simple and is 
contained both in experience and in the very terms 
“consonant” and “stop”, used to denote these sounds. Unlike 
vowels which sound by themselves, without need of support 
other than desire to sound them and supply of air in the 
outgoing breath, a consonant cannot sound by itself, without 
the aid of an immediately following vowel. The term ‘stop’, on 
the other hand implies that it stops the preceding sound (of a 
vowel, as in book, eat, hitch, lock, up and the like). We have 
grown so used to our speech habits that we think stops like k, j, 
t, dh, b, etc. are independent and distinct sounds. They are not: 
they cannot be pronounced on their own! Our misconception 
is based on three things: (a) We have grown used to seeing the 
different symbols in writing, (b) Our vocal instruments take a 
distinct (though not always correct) position for their 
articulation, (c) We often add an indistinct vowel or breath- 
sound at the end or turn a voiced stop into a fricative: thus 
back becomes in speech back-d or back-h and lag becomes 
lag-d or let/ - and so on. Every one of these stops acquires in 
addition other qualities (and thus changes) according to the 
sound environment in which it is articulated: thus wind-jacket 
sounds as wm-j-jacket or else winded jacket or wind-h jacket. 
Hence the addition of a (> ka, ja etc.) is strictly necessary. 

19. The consonants are independent and distinct sounds 
but only if they are articulated with an immediately following 
vowel. 7 In every other case, before a pause (i.e. at the end of a 
speech unit), they are unpronounceable and we know what is 
intended by virtue of the context, when others speak, or by the 
position of the vocal instruments when we ourselves speak. 
One has only to experiment for a short period. 

20. Another important aspect is that Some consonants in 
Sanskrit were most probably pronounced in ancient times 
quite differently from what we are accustomed today. An 
obvious example is ^ va, which was originally given as a 
labial but is now pronounced as a labio-dental (and is so found 
in many modern languages like E ‘vivid, rove’ etc.). Very 


24 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

different were, probably, the usman (=sibilant) ?T sa , sa 
and sa. First of all, if one experiments, one will 
undoubtedly discover that these are not strictly stops 
(=sparsa ) but can go on sounding like nasals and vowels. 
Then one finds that the so-called modern dental s , as in E 
‘ass, sustain’ etc., is not dental at all (like ta or da) but is 
pronounced with the back of the front-part of the tongue 
curved upward and almost touching the upper gum while the 
tip of the tongue touches the lower front teeth! The sound in E 
‘she, shoe, wash’ etc., again, has little to do with S sa: the 
mode of articulation of the modern sound sh differs very little 
with regard to place and effort from that of the modern s. The 
S sa was called usman not for nothing: for, if pronounced on 
the basis of i, it is a hot and spirant sound. Please experiment. 

Actually, the Sanskrit palatal stops could not have been 
the sounds used today - in India or elsewhere. S ca is often 
said to be like the sound in Italian citta ‘city’ or E ‘chop, each’ 
etc.; then another h is added at the end to give the S U cha. 
These modern sounds are pronounced much like the sibilant 
sh the difference being that with the stops there is contact. All 
palatal stops ca, cha, ja, jha when pronounced on the basis of 
i are quite different sounds from those we ordinarily use. 
When speaking mechanically without really attending, as 
most of us usually do, it is very easy to utilise only a small 
segment of our vocal machinery so as to move the jaws, lips 
and tongue as little as possible. I feel certain that the original 
Vedic speech and the earlier PIE sounds were quite different. 

Today, we have projected back our own rather lazy 
sounds resting content in our delusory confidence. The IEL 
gives the palatals with the symbols k\ k'h, g\ g'h thus showing 


Here, throughout, I refer only to the sounds contained in the 
pratyahara jhay of the mahesvarasutras. H. H. Hock rightly calls them 
“nonsyllabic” but includes other sounds, like nasals (1991: 23), which 
can be pronounced without an immediately following vowel. 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 25 


the variety of sounds that approximate the velars or gutturals; 
but this is theoretical without a good description of practical 
pronunciation or, at best, another easy and lazy variety. With 
some attention and on the basis of i, a different variety for S 
ca (and the rest) arises that is intermediate between the IEL 
k' and the modern English ch (as in ‘itch’ or ‘chop’). If we 
really want to investigate ancient pronunciation (=phonetics) 
we must not be content with symbols on paper but first must 
learn to put aside our own mechanical speech habits. 

21. The modern IEL postulates, among other questionable 
entities, a series of stops called “labio-velars” (Watkins, 
p. xvii; Szemerenyi, p. 69; etc.). These are indicated by the 
lettersymbols g w , k 1 , g u 'h, These conjectural consonants 
seem totally unnecessary for several reasons, one of which is 
most fundamental: they are simply unpronounceable. (Note 
also that the series has no corresponding vowel.) Let us see. 

A “labio-velar” consonant implies the simultaneous use of 
the back of the tongue (and mouth as for a and aka) and of the 
lips (as for u or upu). Is this a unitary sound like gh(-a) or 
something else?... The very notation g w or etc. indicates (to 
me) two immediately consecutive but quite distinct sounds, a 
consonant proper and a vowel-glide. Indeed this is what one 
hears when attempting to pronounce any one of them. What is, 
for example, the sound of *g w a (or *g lL em~) ‘to go, come’ 
(Watkins, 33: no asterisk)?... Whatever twists and tricks I use, 
and however swiftly, holding the mouth open and pursing the 
lips, I get a good variety of g-u/-va, go/go or plain ga but not a 
unitary consonant g“' (different from velar ga) and the vowel a. 
Or take *k°i (‘who’: Watkins 46: no asterisk): again I obtain 
ku/-v-i, u-k-v-i, ku and so on. Please experiment. (The fact is 
that no IEL book says how exactly these sounds are 
pronounced.) 


8 So Szemerenyi, p. 69. Baldi gives the series as It g w , g w h, \th 
(p 17). 



26 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

22. Another very curious example (not from the labio- 
velar series) is dhghem (Watkins, 20): this means ‘earthling, 
man’ and the like and is a cognate (indeed, the origin) of 
Gk chthon ‘earth’ ( >auto-chthon ‘indigenous’), L homo ‘man’ 
(and ‘humus, humility’ etc.) and S ksam- ‘earth’ (also ksam, 
ksama ‘endurance’). How does one pronounce dhghe'... The 
first sound I got is dghe, with the cl- slightly muted. Then I got 
dhdghe or Sghe (affricate with -ghe) or an infinitesimal but 
audible pause after dh- and before -ghe- but not dhghe in the 
way I get other initial or medial conjunct consonants. The 
aspiration in the consonant dh requires, in speech, immediate 
release with a vowel or semivowel nasal and vowel. Even 
Szemerenyi acknowledges the difficulty of this initial 
conjunct. 

Watkins gives also a conjunct with a labio-velar 
consonant, dhg w hei- ‘to perish’. This is the distant origin of 
“phthisis” ‘consumption’ (<Gk phthi-) and S ksi > kslyate 
(ksinati ). Here one meets insuperable difficulties. Don’t bother 
to try this. Even attempts to pronounce phthisis will produce at 
least an affricate, fthi- or pthi- or p6i- 

23. It is possible that the speakers of PIE in very ancient 
times had extra-ordinary abilities and could pronounce labio- 
velars as unitary consonants or conjuncts of the type phth or 
even dhg w h - but no more I think than that, in some very 
distant epoch, some trees had a vagina and could get 
impregnated by men, whence arose the myths that humans 
emerged from trees. In theory, on paper, such sounds look 
fine, but in reality they are unpronounceable. 

Sanskrit has of course dhatus ending in aspirates indh, 
ihkh, math, stubh , etc., but these are theoretical or mental 
concepts rather than words used in speech and in the 
Dhatupatha are invariably given with a following vowel 
-indhi, ihkhi, mantha, etc. In actual speech, we find anustu-p, 
or stubdha ‘hymned’ (where the aspiration is transferred onto 
the next unvoiced consonant -ta and this appears now as the 
voiced -dha) or anu-sthubh-yam ‘with two anustubhs’ (where 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 27 


a semivowel follows). These and similar combinations are 
pronounceable. 9 For this reason, Sanskrit preserved them 
when the other IE branches lost them completely except for 
the tha, pha, cha (=kha=xa) preserved in Greek. 

24. Just as the other IE branches lost the voiced aspirates 
completely, it is possible that they lost the murdhanya 
consonants also. It is possible of course, that these sounds 
came into Sanskrit from non-IE languages. The usual view is 
found in MacDonell: “The cerebrals are entirely secondary, 
being a specifically Indian product and unknown in the Indo- 
Iranian period. They are probably due to aboriginal, especially 
Dravidian influences” (p. 8). If so, this must have happened at 
a very distant past since the RV has many words with these 
sounds, though ta, tha, da, dha are not initial. However, 
I doubt this because no “Indo-Iranian” period is attested but is 
only a conjecture and because there are other considerations. 

To begin with, as Hock points out, “retroflexion is 
found in many European forms of speech... but is limited 
to local and regional dialects” (1991: 78). So there is 
nothing very exotic or South Indian about this vocal 
phenomenon. Since it has not been borrowed by modern 
Europeans from “aboriginal natives”, we need not assume that 
the ancient Indoaryans borrowed it from non-IE speakers 
(whose existence is assumed largely on the “evidence” of such 
“borrowed” vocables). At most, what may be said is that the 
Indoaryans developed themselves these sounds. Since PIE had 
the retroflex r and ra, there is no reason, theoretically at least, 
why it should not have had the consonants belonging to this 
family. Sanskritists are quite habituated to the sight of retroflex n 
or s following the vowel r-\ prana, vrnoti, drsti (where the 


9 IEL says that some at least sandhi processes in Sanskrit are due either 
to losses or innovations. This may be true to some degree, but long 
experimentation with Sanskrit sandhis shows that, on the whole (barring 
some cases of hiatus), they are very natural. However, a discussion of this 
topic too must be put aside at present. 



28 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

influence reaches even -t-), vrsni (loc sing of vrsari), etc. 
Common phenomenon is also the cerebral -s after an i, or u as 
in the loc pi nadisu, manusu, etc. However, we find many 
situations where the phenomenon does not occur. Thus we 
have nfndm, pitfnam etc. but nfn and pitfn (acc pi) where, 
in the latter case, one would want to keep one’s tongue in the 
same position (*nfn) rather than flick it forward for the dental 
nasal. True, such examples are limited and there are the rules 
of grammar - but why have this rule?... The form * pitfn could 
be recognised just as easily as pitfn. Then, in contrast to drsti 
we have drsya and in contrast to vrsni we find prsni. 
Also we find brsaya, the dark demon, and hr si ‘pad of grass’; 
also pusta-ka ‘manuscript’ without the -st-, which one 
expects after u- (as in manu-su, above, and pu-st-i ‘growth’). 
Are we to suppose that such cases were forgotten somehow 
or retained for specific purposes?... I do not think so. 

Misra informs us that an intervening m prevents 
cerebralisation in himsa ‘injury’, pumsam ‘of men’, and 
explains that forms like havimsi ‘oblations’ (neut, pi) are 
innovations analogical to bharanti ‘those bearing’ (neut, pi) 
(1975: 76), but in view of so many other anomalies one 
wonders whether these explanations are correct. 

25. Then, there is another strange phenomenon. The 
'Imuh ‘be stupefied’ has for its ppp mugdha in the RV and 
mudha in the AV. Here, it can be argued, we see the process 
of dha appearing and establishing itself in Vedic since the RV 
is generally older than the AV. This may be true but the 
argument is not very convincing. In general, yes, large 
portions of the AV are younger than the AVjust as Bks VIII, IX 
and X of the RV are younger than other Mandalas. But, in 
general, variations of forms may be due to differences in 
regional and dialectal variations in pronunciation and not 
necessarily to a time differential. Second, and more important, 
there is Aruh > rohati ‘grows, ascends’ (given in Mayrhofer as 
rodhati), which has only ppp riidha (rodhum and riidhva) in 
Vedic. Here again, it may be argued that other, earlier forms 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 29 


C "ruddha / *rugdhcP/) disappeared. Perhaps. But we find 
also > I mih > mehati ‘urinate, emit semen’ with ppp midha 
and ppa midhvas only in the RV. Moreover we find V rib > 
redhi and its allomorph ~ilih > ledhi ‘licks’ with ppp ridha 
and lidha. And mih and rih are roots of indubitable IE 
pedigree: for S mih- Av -maezaiti, Gk omich-, L meiere, Gm 
migere, etc.; for S r-/l-ih- Av road-, Gk e-leuth- ‘free’ and 
leicho ‘lick’, Gm liud- and liut, etc. 

Thus we find perfectly IE roots with derivatives that have 
the retroflex consonant dha (or lha). How come?... 
(MacDonell gives conjectural reconstructions by way of 
explanation in §8 and §15i, pp 8, 18, but the plain truth is that 
we do not know). 

26. There is a principle of IEL, more or less tacitly 
accepted, that linguistic change is fairly general and regular. 
In the example of -dha we see that V muh has both mudha 
and mugdha and that it can be claimed that here is proof or 
indication of the change (whether native internal 
development or borrowing from non- IE languages). We also 
find roots that do not have ppp with -gdha (e.g. midha, ndha/ 
lidha and rudha). Here it may be claimed that the older forms 
with -gdha went out of use. However, if this change was 
fairly general and regular, then we should find ppp with -dha 
for many other roots of similar form, i.e. ending in -h. We 
have certainly tr(n)h ‘crushing’ > ppp trdha ‘crushed’ and 
dr(h)h ‘be/make firm’ > drdha ‘made firm’, etc. But we also 
have dih ‘smearing’, duh ‘extracting’, snih ‘be moist, fond of’ 
etc.: these have ppp in -gdha. Obviously these latter were 
not affected in the least by the “general and regular change”. 

I think we should forget the “general change”. In our 
examples, some roots have derivatives with -gdha- and others 
with -dha (lha ). Some roots that have no apparent IE 
cognates, like dah ‘burning’, have ppp in -gdha-. if these 
were of non-IE origin, they, I would expect, should be 
among the first to exhibit the change to -dha (but they don’t). 
Then some roots with obvious IE cognations like mih and rih/ 
lih have ppp in -dha. 


30 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Another case is interesting. MacDonell cites du-dhi 
‘ill-disposed’ and derives it from *duz-dbl (= dur-dbT). This 
may have been so. But then we find so many rigvedic words 
that do not show such a change: dur-dhita ‘untidy’, dur- 
drsika ‘looking bad’, dur-dhara ‘difficult to carry’ etc. 
MacDonell cites also rii-da ‘nest’ (<*niz-da) but again we find 
in the RV nir-dl ‘fly away’ nir-dub- ‘extract’, etc. So, finally, 
here we have da. 

To me at any rate, these evidences suggest that Vedic had 
from the earliest times the retroflex consonants da and dba 
and it is unnecessary to speculate that it borrowed them from 
elsewhere or that they resulted from a change of dental da and 
dba (or whatever). (I do not, however, rule out that there were 
other, non IE languages and that these probably influenced 
Vedic; but this is another matter.) 

27. We now have retroflex sounds r, ra, sa, ta, da, dba. 
Given the regularity of Sanskrit phonetics, we should expect 
to find the retroflex consonant tha also. The aspirate tba is 
admittedly comparatively rare and it need not detain us 
longer. But we must note that da is found also in situations 
other than those which MacDonell cites: e.g. words like 
danda ‘stick, staff’Cand its cognates), nada ‘reed’ a Ipid 
‘pressing’C and its cognates) all three in the RV. For the root 
pld Mayrhofer gives an IE cognate in Gk piez-o ‘I press’. 

All these evidences suggest not only that that the cerebral 
phonemes were wellestablished in Vedic but also that they 
probably were PIE. That Vedic borrowed from non-IE 
languages is a distinct possibility. But unless we find early 
attestation for non-IE languages of approximately the same 
period as the RV( i.e. sometime in the fourth millennium BC), 
or unless we find pre-rigvedic Indoaryan texts free of cerebrals 
(e.g. *danda , *midba, *ledhum etc.), it is utterly useless to 
speculate about this matter. There are words with cerebrals 
appearing in post-vedic texts and these may be intrusions into 
Sanskrit from non-IE languages (i.e. Munda and Dravidian) 
but even in these cases there are strong reasons for caution. 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 31 


Just because a word does not appear in the RV or the AVit does 
not mean that the word was not in the early language: it is very 
doubtful that these Samhltas contain all the words then 
available. But if a word (that has no IE cognates at all and 
cannot be reduced to a Sanskrit dhatu ) appears in late classical 
texts, that is after the sutras and the epics, then it is fairly 
certain that it is a loan. Another reason for uncertainty is the 
chronology. Under the distorting influence of the AIT the 
chronologies given for the Samhltas, the Brahmanas, the 
Sutras, the Epics etc., are far too recent. Such dates should no 
longer be tenable. A third difficulty is that the Epics and a 
work like the Manusmni may in their finished form belong to 
c 100 BC or 100 CE, but they most certainly contain much 
material that goes back a very long time. So the hunt for 
foreign words in Sanskrit is at present no profitable pursuit - as 
was indeed shown by R. P. Das (1995). 

28. The latest IEL does not give, I think, importance to 
the principle of the inner organic coherence of a language. 
The basis of this is the root or dhatu (“seed-” or “elemental 
form” might be a better term). This principle is observable 
even in non-inflected modern languages like English. The 
English morpheme act, comes from French acte and Latin 
actum, and so goes back to cognates of L and Gk ag-, OIr aig, 
S aj etc. This can be taken as a root generating numerous 
verbal and nominal forms like act-s/-ed/-ing, act-ion/-ive-ly, 
activ-ate/-ity etc. Thus all these words can be said to derive 
from the “root” act. 

Early sanskritists stressed the importance of the dhatu in 
Sanskrit. This is evident in (Sir) Monier Williams’ A Practical 
Grammar of the Sanskrit Language (4th ed., 1876: 51-5, 
§§ 74-6). In this Grammar, Monier-Williams devotes many 
pages in showing how, in the line of the NIGT, the roots 
engender primary (kri) and secondary ( taddhita) derivatives 
with various suffixes and with the corresponding ablaut of 
the radical vowel (pp 57-75, §§ 80-7). The same scholar 
arranged, as best he could with the limited resources and 


32 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

means of his time, his Sanskrit-English Dictionary (1899) on 
the basis of the dhatu, giving it in bold letters, then giving 
derivatives and cognates under the dhatu - but not always as 
fully and successfully as might be done. Then W. D. Whitney 
presented the roots and derivatives under them in his own 
publication of 1885. Instead of continuing and perfecting this 
practice, subsequent sanskritists barely mention the root or 
the process of wordformation. M. Mayrhofer’s Worterbuch... 
(=Dictionary) is excellent in concentrating the results of two 
centuries of research in the Sanskrit language by numerous 
(mainly Western) scholars. But here verbs are given in the 
third person sing. ( =prathama purusa in the NIGT): e.g. 
moti, degdhi, etc. without mention of the root; and although 
he gives crossreferences, the nouns, adjectives, etc. are also 
given without any mention of the root. 

29. T. Burrow, whose The Sanskrit Language is still the 
authority in this field, wrote: “Chiefly owing to its antiquity the 
Sanskrit Language is more readily analysable, and its roots 
more easily separable from accretionary elements than is the 
case with any other IE language” (1973: 289). The NIGT of 
course recognised the significance of the roots and early on 
collected them in “root-lists” Dhdtupatha (Palsule 1961). 
Indeed, no other IE language can be analysed to the same 
degree and disclose roots, nor show a regular operation of 
principles whereby nouns and verbs are formed - at least not 
as in Sanskrit. Suffice it to say that in Greek, which has, more 
than any other early IE stock, many common features with 
Sanskrit (despite their kentum-satdm difference), it is very 
difficult, if not impossible, to extract clear and definite roots or 
see constant principles in the formation of nouns and verbs: a 
hint of this is to be found in §§ 12-14 above. Sanskrit also 
must have suffered attrition and losses of words and roots, 
while many nouns and indeclinables cannot be assigned to a 
root at all. Nonetheless, the roots, affixes, suffixes and 
terminations are clearly separable in most cases. 

An important aspect is that many roots, particularly those 
(but not all) of class II ad-adi-gana, function as stems of both 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 33 


verbs and nouns. Thus V dvis ‘hating’ can take immediately the 
terminations of noun and verb: e.g. dvis+s (nom sing) >dvit 
‘foe, hatred’; dvis+mas > dvismas ‘we hate’. Of course, for the 
strong persons the stem undergoes the ablaut of the radical 
vowel into the guna grade: thus, dvis+ mi>dves-mi 
‘I hate’. The operation of sandhi brings about other changes 
as well: e.g. dvis+ si>dveksi. 

Then we have V vis- ‘settling, entering’ (class VI tud-ddi- 
gana). This gives us f vit (nom sing) ‘clan, settlement’. This 
same root takes the suffix -a , which necessitates the guna (or 
vrddhi) grade of the radical vowel, and gives the primary 
derivative noun vesa (m) ‘settler, settlement’; with the 
addition of the affix -ya, which necessitates the vrddhi 
(sometimes the guna) grade, the stem vesa gives now the 
secondary derivative (m) vai-sya. ‘settler, producer/trader’. 
Thus Sanskrit has three levels of nominal (and adjectival) 
stems - radical (no change in root-vowel), primary 
and secondary derivatives (with necessary changes in the 
root-vowel). 10 

Similar principles regulate the formation of the verbal 
stem according to the class in which the root belongs. This 
"V I vis , which is class VI, has its vowel unchanged but takes the 
affix -a- and then the terminations: thus vis+a+ti>visati ‘one 
settles’; it has a strong stem with guna grade ves- (perf vi-ves-a 
‘one has settled’) but not in the present tense and the 
imperfect. A root of class I bbv-adi-gana like Vch takes the 


10 The vrddhi-grade forms are far less common in the R Vthan the guna-grade but 
they increase in the later language. Apart from -ya other suffixes that (may and often 
do) necessitate vrddhi are -a for tire formation of abstract nouns, patronymics etc 
(e.g. manu> manava , suc-i> sauc-a; insva- > vaisva-), -aka(e.g.'!tap> tap-aka 
‘heat-producing’; Vwrieading’ > nay-aka ‘one who leads’), -eya for adjectives 
(e.g. agn-eya ‘of agni) pan i~us-eya ‘of man’), etc. 

Now look at nominal formations in Greek from verbs with apparently very 
similar stems, given alphabetically. Some like bded, xeo etc have been left 
out. Observe that some show no grade change and others show totally 
unexpected changes. 



34 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

affix -a- too, but also guna grade in the stem of the present 
and imperfect: cit+a+ti > cet-a-ti ‘one perceives, is conscious 
of’. Apart from the usual tenses, moods and voices (active, 
middle and passive), found in Greek and Latin, the Sanskrit 
verb-system has causative ( cet-aya-ti ‘makes someone else 
conscious of’), desiderative ( ci-kit-sa-ti ‘wants to be 
conscious’) and intensive ( ce-kit-e ‘highly/ repeatedly 
conscious’). Although some traces of the one or other of 
these aspects are found in the other IE branches (e.g. Gk 


i) de-o( and redupl dide-mi) ‘bind’ (=S da> dyati): de-ma 'band, rope’; de-s-is 
‘the binding together’, de-s-ma, -s-mos‘ bond’; (dia-)de-ma ‘band around hair’; 
de-teo./ -to- ‘ what should be bound’. (No do -smos m here, as we might expect from 
the rule in §15, above.) 

ii) ze-o ‘boil’ (=S yas-yati): ze-ma ‘fermentation, decoction’; ze-s-is ‘the 
boiling’; ze-s-to- ‘boiled, hot’. 

iii) ke-o/kei-o (thought to be desiderative of kei-mai' lie down’ =S sl> sete/ 
sayate): hoi-t-dzo' put to bed’, kott-+/-t-os‘ bed’, koi-t-on ‘bed-chamber’. 

iv) ne-o(na-6‘ flow’) ‘swim, float’ (?=S Vn«> navate/nauti'move’): nails 
‘ship’ (= S nau-s) and deriv(ative)s from stems na-/ne-/ne-/nau -; nau4-eia 'naval 
matters’, -t-as‘sailor’, -t-i-deriv(ative)s pertaining to ‘naval’; neu-s-is 
‘swimming’. 

v) ple-o(pl&-/plon-6) ‘sail’ (=S'lplu>plavate): pleu-s-is (very late) ‘sailing’; 
pb4zo ‘sail on sea’; plo-as ‘what is floating about’; plo-izo ‘sail’, 
-(s)i-mo- ‘fit for sailing’; plo-t-er ‘sailor, floater’, -t-archos ‘shipmaster’, -t-is 
'lifebelt’, etc. 

vi) pne-6(pnet-6 -) ‘blow, breathe’: pneii-ma ‘blast, air' andderivs; pneu-s-is 
and derivs from pneus--, pm -e,pmi -a ‘blast, breeze, breath’. 

vii) rhe~6(rhei-6) ‘flow’ (=S vsrw > sravati/si-sar-ti): rheu-ma ‘current’ and 
derivs (cf ‘rheumatism’1); rheu-s-is ‘flowing’ (very late); rho-e, 
-os (Cypriot rho-F-os-, Attic rhous) ‘stream’; rhu-ax ‘stream, torrent, -as(adj) 
‘fluid’. 

viii) che-o ‘pour’ (=S hit > juhoti)-. cheii-ma ‘stream, flow’; cho-e ‘pouring, 
libation’ and compounds; cho-eus , -6s, choii-s'soil, earth'; cho-a-ne-, ch-e-ne- 
‘meltingpot’; chu-deit' in floods’, -c/ato-‘poured in floods, vulgar’; chu-los‘juice' 
(> ‘chyle, chylific’I); chuma ‘the fluid’, -meia' melting alloys’, -mos'juice’; chu- 
(n)nd‘ pour’ (late); chu-s-is ‘shedding’; chu-t-es' metal-caster’; chu-t-ldzo L anoint, 
-Ion ‘liquid’; chu-t-o- ‘ poured, flowing’; chutra/-tros (also ku-thra') ‘earthen pot’; 
chutreus potter. Also ko-chu/-deo/-zo ‘stream forth' (? intensive with redupl). 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 35 


potaomai frequentative or intensive of petomai ‘I fly’ and 
gen-na-o, ‘beget’ causal of gi-gno-mai ‘be born, become’), 
these languages seem that much poorer for not having them 
in the full measure of Sanskrit. 

30. The concept of the root and of the organic coherence 
of a language implies, of course, as has been evident in the 
preceding discussion, the presence of terminations for nouns 
and verbs, of suffixes, prefixes and affixes of various kinds. 
It is obvious, for example, that different terminations for the 
verb signify active or middle voice ( parasmai- and 
atmanepada), different moods and different persons; or that 
the prefix a- (augment) signifies past tense ( a-cet - ‘did, was- 
doing, perceiving’). It is also obvious that affixes for noun¬ 
stems signify the nature of the noun - whether it denotes an 
agent ( bhar-tr ‘bearer’), an abstraction ( bhrti ‘the notion of 
bearing’), an action ( bharana ‘bearing’), etc. These are well 
known aspects. 

31. The concepts of root and of the organic coherence 
illuminate another aspect of comparative studies, one little 
noticed in the numerous publications. There are many words 
in the IE languages that have no obvious derivation from and 
cannot be linked to a root. I take two very common examples 
the cognate stems of which are to be found in all IE stocks, 
except Hittite and Celtic: ‘daughter’ and ‘son’. The two are, in 
a sense, orphaned, without parentage, as it were, in all the 
branches, except Sanskrit. 

Thus ‘daughter’ appears in Arm dustr, Gk tbugater, Oltal 
futir, Gth dduhtar, etc. But, despite intensive searches, in no 
language is found a root or verb-stem to connect with this 
word. Only Sanskrit has the root duh from which not only 
duh-i-tr ‘daughter (milk-maid)’ but also several other nouns 
(■dugha ‘cow’, duh ‘milking, granting’, doha ‘the milking, 
milk’, etc.) and a fully conjugated verb ( dogdhi ‘milks’, 
duhlyat ‘may one milk’, du-doha ‘one has milked’ etc.). 
Similar formations are found with ylas ‘eat’ > as-i-tr ‘eater’, 
a Igrah ‘seize’, grah-i-tr ‘seizer’, a Ipu ‘purify’ > pav-i-tr 


36 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

‘purifier’, etc. (Two more feminines, matr. mother’ and svasr 
‘sister’ are inflected like the masculines pitr, bhrdtr ‘brother .) 
Some remotely possible cognates in other IE stocks have been 
proposed, like Gk tugh-ano ‘occur’, Olr dual ‘suitable’, Gth 
dang ‘useful’, etc. but all are uncertain (Mayrhofer, under 
dogdhi). 

The noun sav-i-tr ‘impeller, begetter, sun’ is another such 
formation from Vsm (in Dhatupatha: prasavaisvaryayoh 
‘generation and dominion’). But Asii gives also sunu ‘son’. 
This stem too is common to most IE stocks: Av hunu, OS1 syn, 
Lith siinus, Gm sun- and Gk hu-ids and TochB soy-. Here too 
Sanskrit has a fully developed verb suvati/sute ‘vivifies, 
begets’ and numerous other derivative nouns apart from 
savitr. sava ‘stimulator, impulse’, suti ‘production, etc. The 
noun sii-nu is a normal formation with -nu, as 'Igrdh 
‘be greedy’ >grdh-nu ‘eager’, V bba ‘shin &>bhd-nu ‘shiner, 
sun’, vis-nu etc. Some IE branches have a cognate verb but 
with different meaning: Av hunaHi ‘seeks to obtain, prompts’; 
Ht suydi ‘push, press’ (perhaps cognate with S >Isu ‘pressing’), 
Lith su-k-ti ‘turn’. Old Irish has the verb so(a)id ‘turn, twist’ 
and the noun suth ‘birth’ but not a cognate for ‘son’. Greek, 
again, has no other cognate and although it has the 
corresponding suffix -nu-s, as in thre-nus ‘footstool’, lig-nus 
‘murky fire’ (>lignite), it has only the decayed form hu-i-os. 

One could cite more examples. The common stem for 
‘foot’ is in Sanskrit pad- (=that which falls down) and is linked 
with V pad>padyate ‘falls (down), goes’. But while some IE 
branches have the cognate stem for the noun (Gk pous/pod-, 
L pes/ped-, Gth fot-us and Ht pat a-') but not the verb, only 
three have something of the verb (OE ge-fetan ‘fallen’, OS1 
padg/pasti ‘fall’ and TochB pat-k). We find a similar situation 
with S yman>man-u ‘man, thinker’, > lmus,>mus-aka ‘mouse, 
stealer’, etc. 

32. From these last considerations apart from anything 
else, we must conclude that Sanskrit is older and closer to PIE 
than any other branch. 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 37 


In a paper published in the Journal of Indo-European 

Studies where I examined the cognate names of deities and 
some mythological themes in IE languages, I wrote: “no major 
mythological (or religious) feature appears in two or more 
branches to the exclusion of the Vedic. On the contrary, 
feature after feature appears in the RV in common with one or 
two other branches to the exclusion of the others - sometimes 
with the Greek and the Roman, sometimes with the Roman 
and the Celtic and so on... I do not consider [IE] traditions 
other than the Vedic as very reliable and would not draw 
definite conclusions from them unless the issue is attested in 
the Veda... I would concur with... ideas for the PIE period only 
if they were present in the Veda too” (2001: 285, 288). Meillet 
(1908, and many another subsequently) gave as PIE several 
words in Latin, Germanic etc., but not in Vedic; but many of 
those can be linked with Vedic words and those that cannot, 
should be held suspect as coming from non-IE languages. 

I hold the same for linguistic matters and add that, since 
the Vedic tradition has preserved so much more in comparison 
with the others, a feature present in Sanskrit only (and absent 
in the other IE branches) does not automatically and 
necessarily mean that it must be rejected or held suspect as a 
loan from other, non-IE stocks (e.g. the cerebrals; lexical items 
in Burrow 1973)- 

33- In the end, the method of Linguistics, just as of any 
other discipline or science, entails collection and interpretation 
of data and the whole process is supported or coloured by 
assumptions, mostly taken for granted. One of the 
assumptions is that “my method” is right. But this “right 
method”, which is right in a well defined area, does not take 
into account a larger area containing the first and an even 
larger area containing the second and so on: our method is 
coloured by our belief that we are dealing with the whole, 
when, in fact, we are not, and therefore cannot arrive at sound 
knowledge, since sound knowledge can only be knowledge of 
the whole. For example, the study of an ear separated from the 



38 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

whole organism, of which it is a member, will doubtless 
reveal much about the structure and composition of the ear 
but not much about its true nature which involves its function 
in the whole organism. Another assumption is that the 
measurable and everchanging material world is the only 
reality and that anything not amenable to measurement by 
our senses cannot be the subject of objective or “scientific” 
inquiry. But, in fact, the ultimate observer, the ultimate 
consciousness/awareness which observes or has cognisance 
of all bodily and mental movements, including the 
measuring, evaluating and concluding and all thinking, is 
itself not subject to scientific enquiry since it is the ultimate 
observer and is in no way observable or measurable by the 
senses or any of the most advanced instruments. 

The study of Language cannot be divorced from that of 
the ultimate or essential nature of Man. The assumptions 
about the latter will inevitably colour the study of the former. 
The general view today, the “scientific view”, is that Man, 
homo sapiens sapiens, has “evolved” from some ape-like 
creature by the processes of natural selection and random 
mutations and that consciousness and language arose more or 
less accidentally. This is no more than a belief based on the 
interpretation of certain data consisting of very few fragments 
of fossils and bones: it is not something “scientifically 
observable/demonstrable”. The molecular biology and 
biotechnology which are supposed to be “scientifically 
observable” are in fact just as insecure (Gibbons 2001: 1052; 
also Brooks 2001: 410-411). Another “belief’ holds that Man 


11 The bibliography has increased enormously in recent years. 
For a recent overview of evolution see Gribbin and Cherfas 2003 (who at one 
point express doubts about the Darwinian theory). For the creationist view 
see Cremo 2003. Just as there are different evolutionary theories (=neo- 
Darwinist views) so there are varieties of creationism. One of the latter is the 
much more plausibly “scientific” movement known as “intelligent design”, 
as contrasted with the blind necessity and chance of neo-Darwinism 
(Dembski ed 1998 ). 



SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 39 


issued from the substance of the Supreme Being (=God, 
Absolute) but lost his initial perfection descending gradually 
to a lower state 11 : this is termed the “creationist view” (or one 
variety) by the adherents of the “scientific view”. Following 
certain religious, mythological and philosophical traditions, 
the “creationist view”, putting spirit above matter, says that 
this creation-process repeats itself in cycles. The “scientific 
view” adopts the rectilinear view of Judaeo-Christian 
theology (but without the theology itself, i.e. without God) 
that the world appeared once and has been “evolving” ever 
since and that man emerged at one point in time - once only, 
at a date which changes every few decades according to the 
palaeontological finds, i.e. about 40000, 80000, 100000 and 
now about 150000 BP. In this view Language itself “evolved” 
out of animal grunts and bird twitterings after the vocal 
machinery and brain structure became sufficiently and 
fittingly developed (Hawkins and Gell-Mann 1992: 21-83). 

34. Personally, I know nothing of Man’s origin - how and 
when he appeared on this planet; and 1 do not think 
palaeontologists and kindred scientists know either. I incline 
towards the Vedic Tradition which holds that man is 
engendered from the Supreme Being and has for his real Self 
the substance or spirit of that very Being (ayam atma brahma ); 
also that the process of creation and “evolution” (“devolution” 
I would say) is cyclical in very long periods called yugas and 
mahayugas-, and that human language reflects divine Speech 
by which all things come to be in the material world. This 
inclination is not a capricious blind belief. For, quite apart 
from the ancient mythological statements, in our brief 
embodiment in this world we can observe many small and 
large cyclical phenomena like the day and the year, the 
seasons with their accompanying flowering, fruition and fall, 
the succession of seed and plant and seed, the development 
and degeneration of nations and cultures and so on; 
consequently it is not unreasonable to assume recurrence on 
the larger scale of solar systems and galaxies - projected and 


40 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

withdrawn in the rhythmic breathing of- the Primal Cause 
termed tad-ekam in RVX, 129. As for the immense power of 
language one has only to consider a common gross example: 
the President or Prime-minister of a country gives an order 
and, upon that, hundreds of thousands of people (vehicles, 
ships and airplanes) move here and there, killing and being 
killed, destroying and creating. Finally, since the world 
displays order at every level in the ladder of existence, since 
different types of creatures on our planet have different 
degrees of intelligence, with human beings at the top rung, and 
since something cannot come out of nothing, it is not 
unreasonable to assume that a Supreme Intelligence (=Being) 
has been at work from the very start and at all stages - just as a 
poet conceives and generates a finished poem. 

35 . The Vedic Tradition regards Speech as a divinity, Vdk , 
from its very beginning, in that remarkable document, the 
Rgveda. This goddess Vak is identified with the holy-power 
brahman which has four states, the highest being the most 
silent and most potent. Simple observation shows that, indeed, 
all forms of spoken or written language come from thoughts, 
these from some kind of unformulated, perhaps emotional, 
knowledge and that again from a silence that is full of potency 
(= roughly vaikhari, madhyama, pasyanti and para). It is 
curious that no other IE branch had any linguistic studies 
(except Plato’s Kratulos and the subsequent grammatical 
formulations of the Stoics) and a divinity of Speech. 

When Sanskrit appeared in the hymns of the RV, it was 
already a fully developed and highly complex language - but 
one already suffering attritions and changes (i.e. devolving to 
simpler forms). Ancient Egyptian too appeared more or less 
suddenly c3000 BC as a fully developed language - it too 
having recognisable roots (Gardiner 1957; Watterson 1993). 
In fact, all the earliest recorded languages were highly 
developed - Chinese, Mesopotamian, Greek etc. But 
subsequently they all changed to simpler systems, 


SANSKRIT AND PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN / 41 


streamlining and regularising declensions and conjugations. 
Sanskrit itself came in later periods to use more and more 
complex compounds and much less the inflexions leaving 
unused the rich verbal forms of the rigvedic language - 
which had already suffered losses. English, again, started as 
an inflected language but, by about 1500 CE, became 
uninflected and genderless. 

It is therefore difficult to see how or why languages 
started with animal hisses, grunts and warbles, then became 
very complex media of thought and communication and 
then, despite literacy which should have preserved the older 
forms more easily, they devolved into much simpler forms. 

The historical beginnings of Man and Language are 
unknown. However, taking the Vedic yugas as framework, 
I propose this hypothesis. In the Sat- or Krta-yuga, when 
human beings lived in (near) perfection being of one mind (as 
the ancient accounts tell us), they had no language such as we 
know. When that unity was lost in a subsequent age, then 
arose Language in full panoply, as it were, much like goddess 
Athena springing out of the temple of her father Zeus. “And 
the whole earth was of one language and of one speech”, as 
the Judaic Old Testament has it (Genesis 11, 1): with the root 
as its basis, with all three genders and many more verbal 
aspects than we know, that language could express every 
possible nuance of human knowledge and experience. 
Subsequently that unitary language devolved into different 
dialects losing some or many of its subtle nuances. One of 
these branches was what we now term Proto-Indo-European, 
others being perhaps Semitic (or Afro-Asiatic), Austric etc. 
These languages again devolved into more branches and so 
on, down to all modern vernaculars. 

Today we have specialised “languages” (=idioms) or 
“jargons” within any one “official” language. When I read 
books on Genetics and Biology some time ago, I had to 
proceed very slowly reading and rereading passages and 


42 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

consulting relevant dictionaries, almost as in learning a 
foreign language. The same holds for Linguistics, Law, 
Physics, etc. Each “discipline” or field of knowledge 
becomes more and more specialised and “foreign” to the 
common language. This presumably is inevitable, but one 
wonders at times if we are not living in a new Tower of 
Babel. 

36 . As indicated in previous pages, several aspects of 
Sanskrit and PIE have not been examined: e.g. sandhi or 
euphony, which in fact arises naturally from the realities of 
pronunciation; the musical accent; the nasals; the laryngeals, 
which have not been mentioned at all; etc. However, the 
examination of all such phenomena would not furnish much 
more evidence to help us decide the main issues discussed. 
Much depends, as was said earlier, on one’s basic and total 
view of human nature and of the world - whether it all is of 
divine origin and inconceivable intelligence or the result of 
inexplicable particles and accident and mechanical 
“evolution”. 

One may ask finally whether it is possible to reconstruct 
the PIE language, but this seems to be a wrong question. For 
even if scholars managed this (which I doubt) there are no 
possible means of verification. Even if tablets with genuine 
PIE texts were discovered, scholars would compare their 
language with their own latest reconstructions and would 
accept it as PIE only if it agreed; otherwise they would look 
upon it as yet another stock of PIE and perhaps would proceed 
to revise (some of) their reconstructions. 

A more pertinent question might be - “Is there some 
practical purpose for reconstructing PIE”? I do not know. 
I would learn another language only if I thought it desirable to 
communicate with people who speak it or to read the literature 
written in it. PIE fits neither. Personally, I think this and other 
reconstructions of Proto-languages are signs of the Tower of 
Babel. But, on the other hand, human beings are very different 
and have different values, feelings and desires. 


2 . Coherence and Preservation 

in Sanskrit 


1. Argument. This paper examines more than 400 Indo- 
European lexical items denoting, as far as possible invariable 
things, qualities and activities (bodily parts, relations and 
actions like breathing, dressing, rising etc). Sanskrit appears 
to have lost far fewer items and preserves much greater inner 
organic coherence than the other branches. This supports the 
general idea that Sanskrit is much closer to Proto-Indo- 
European and that, since this could happen only in sedentary 
conditions, the Indoaryan speakers of Sanskrit did not move 
(much) from the original homeland. Moreover, the criticism 
that this conclusion does not take into account the large 
literature in Sanskrit is shown to be fallacious. 

2. Introductory In 2003 I published a small collection of 
words denoting “invariable” items (to be explained shortly). 
This was in response to J. P. Mallory’s charge (2002) that I was 
being ‘unscientific’ in claiming that since the Vedic Tradition 
retained many more theonyms (see Kazanas 2001; 2005) and 
other linguistic and cultural aspects of proven Indoeuropean 
provenance, it had moved very little, if at all, and in any case 
the Indoaryans were indigenous from the beginning of the 5th 
millennium at least (Kazanas 2002). This I called the 
P(reservation) P(rinciple). Mallory (2002) argued that if the 
Indoaryans had preserved most because they had not moved 
(much) then the Iranians who were very close to them in the 
west should have the second biggest stock of retentions, while 
the Celts (Ireland), and the Norsemen (Iceland) should have 


44 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

the least having moved most of all. I had not implied that 
losses were directly proportional to distance away from the 
proposed homeland and I had explicitly stated that such 
calculations are not valid (Kazanas 2003) but this was ignored. 
Mallory further adduced the indices of Gamkrelidge and 
Ivanov (1995) showing that Greek had 2441 retentions, Baltic 
2376 and Indo-Iranian 2139: thus Sanskrit was, in fact, third in 
preservations. Taking Mallory at his word, I did not think then 
to check these figures. Instead I examined 50 words, nouns 
and verbs, denoting things like head, mouth, etc, and actions 
like begetting, breathing, dressing etc, all of which remain 
constant however much social conditions change. 
I abandoned several problematic cases and the stems that were 
common to all branches and was left with 26. Of these 26, 
S 1 lacks 3, Gk 10 and B 16.1 put these finds in my paper “Final 
Reply”, kindly published by the Journal of Indo-European 
Studies, 2003, of which Mallory is the editor. 

3 . More than a year later I had to consult Gamkrelidge and 
Ivanov’s book. I looked then at the indices only to discover 
that the figures Mallory had given were utterly wrong. They 
were right as sum-totals but many words were duplicated, 
given in, say the gen, voc, etc, sometimes repeated as many as 
five times! I wrote to Mallory warning him of those misleading 
and unacceptable figures. We exchanged some email 
messages on the subject and eventually (Nov 2004) he cited 
M. Swadesh and his 100 “basic words”, where the Indie 
branch has 82, Italic also 82, Gk 80, (Im 76,) Gm 75, B 71, C 
64 and the others below 50%: here again S does not have most 
retentions. I knew of Swadesh’s work in Glottochronology 
(i.e. how fast words wear out or disappear and so a language 
changes) and that the whole subject is now thoroughly 
discredited. In any event, these numbers do not tally at all with 
the figures I had obtained in my small test and the general feel 
I had of the languages. So I began new research. 


S = Sanskrit (and Vedic) 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 45 

4 . Mallory had added: “ I believe basically that we will 
find the greatest conservatism/retention among those 
languages that are earlier attested and have the largest 
vocabularies i.e. Vedic, Greek and Latin”. Presumably, this 
prediction is thought to be more “scientific”. 2 But as the 
results show, the prediction is quite wrong. Of 404 significant 
words examined, S lacks 53, Gm 145, Gk 149, B 185, L 
(=Italic) 207, C 210, SI 215. Although Gm has a comparatively 
late attestation and a comparatively smaller literature, it is just 
before Gk and way ahead of Italic both of which have an 
early attestation and an enormous literature. The matter will 
be discussed at length below. 

Another interesting aspect is the low percentage retained 
by the Slavic people. The Slavs may not have moved quite as 
far from Saptasindhu (assuming this was the PIE homeland) as 
the Irish and Norsemen, but they did move very considerably 
back and forth in the regions they now occupy, i.e Poland, 
Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Balkans etc, and the vast 
expanse of European Russia. In contrast, the Old Norsemen 
remained in Scandinavia for many centuries until a contingent 
sailed in a very short time to Iceland in the 9th cent CE (during 


2 What is scientific? Everybody loves to use the term but I can’t help 
wondering about its use. Telepathy is a well established phenomenon 
frequently occurring between twins and sometimes between a mother and 
her child(ren) or, more seldom, between other persons. Yet, at present, there 
are no scientific means to verify it, other than ordinary observation and 
common sense or reason. A modern scientist, J. M. Schwartz, an American 
neurophysiologist, wrote of “the cult of scientism” as “the fallacy of 
believing that the method of science must be used on all forms of 
experience and, given time, will settle every issue” (2002: 6). Five decades 
earlier another American scientist wrote: “expressions such as ‘scientific 
truth’ should only be taken in a very limited sense... There is no scientific 
truth in the absolute sense. The phrase Ad veritatemper scientiam [=To truth 
by means of science] is an absurdity” (du Noiiy 1949: 23). Again: “Physicist 
Wolfgang Pauli once put it that scientists went too far in the seventeenth 
century when they attempted to make everything understandable strictly as 
objective science. By denuding the subjective view from any firm ground, 
much was lost”: a contemporary physicist (Wolf 2001: 6). 



46 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

the oppressive reign of Harold Haarfagr). The Celts too kept 
moving across Europe, then to the British Isles and finally to 
Ireland (some even to Iceland, long before the Norsemen). So 
movement does play a significant role in lexical retentions. 
But it is not a simplistic equation ‘farther distance from 
homeland, bigger losses’. Once people move, many other 
factors come into play. The people themselves may be more or 
less retentive or they may want to reject completely the culture 
at home; then, they may go through many vicissitudes the 
worst being subjugation; in any case, as they meander about, 
they may find other cultures much more attractive and 
surrender to them completely - as the Vikings did in N-W 
France (Normandy)or in Kiev, where they had set up their own 
kingdom. 

However it is interesting that Mallory shifted somewhat his 
position. Although he continued to abjure vigorously lexical 


In any case, the scientific method like every successful method in any 
human enterprise requires three ingredients: interest, observation and 
reasoning. Interest directs attention to the particular field and keeps it there 
against all difficulties. Observation collects data related to the subject under 
research. Reasoning discriminates between relevant and irrelevant, accurate 
and inaccurate premises and data and so arrives at (correct) conclusion(s) 
(Beveridge 1968). This holds for every discipline in the sciences and arts. 
The fact that a science like molecular biology uses many and complex 
instruments does not alter the three basic aspects common to all human 
enquiry. Because of faulty reasoning or inadequate observations, scientists 
make as many and big mistakes despite their instruments (Cohen 2001: 
32-34) as investigators in other fields. Furthermore, insight or inspiration and 
luck, all of which are out of one’s control, play important part in sciences 
(Beveridge, 27ff, 68© no less than in the humanities. 

Some more on science and mainstream views. An eminent biochemist, 
Dr C. B. Pert, writes: “Do not accept the conventional [^mainstream] 
wisdom. Do not accept the idea that something can’t be accomplished 
because the scientific literature says it can’t... Don’t depend on the 
literature - it could be right or it could be wrong. Spread all your hunches 
before you...” (2002: 40). The AIT is the backbone of “conventional 
wisdom” in Indology. Once you examine the “evidence” you find it is “thin” 
or “hot air:” there is not a scrap of solid evidence for it (Kazanas 2001b, 
2002 ). 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 47 

counts as unscientific, he was now trying to show that S does 
not have most retentions. He wrote that according to the 
Swadesh counts, Indie is at the top “but it is sharing first place 
with a language [i.e. Italic] that was not seriously attested for 
about 1000 years later ... and is quite a distance from its 
putative homeland in India”. This means that he takes my PP a 
little more seriously. But I must observe that here he slips 
dangerously. Italic is attested by 500 BC and more seriously c 
300. Greek is attested c 650 in epigraphies across the country 
and more “seriously” by 550 when Homer is thought to have 
been put in writing by Peisistratos. According to the A(ryan) 
Knvasion / Immigration) T(heory), the RV was composed c 
1200 BC. But there is no attestation of a written i?Ubefore the 
14th cent CE (with Sayana’s commentary), if then ! The first IE 
writing in India is Asoka’s prakrta (not Vedic/Sanskrit) Rock 
Inscriptions after 300 BC but manuscripts survive “seriously” 
only after the 14th cent CE. So in no way is the Vedic Tradition 
favoured by writing. These facts were spelled out in the paper 
published (2003) in the Journal of Indo-European Studies. 

5 . Leaving aside the fact that mainstream scholars 
(Swadesh and Mallory and just about everybody else) are 
under the spell of the AIT, there are two serious difficulties 
with past counts, apart from the wretched AIT which has, since 
the second half of the 19th cent, coloured every aspect of 
Indology and IE studies but scholars do not take this into 
account. The other two difficulties are linguistic. 

First, some stems are arbitrary and need not be PIE even 
though they are found in two or more IE branches. As was 
observed early in the 20th cent (Bloomfield 1933; see also §9, 
below) a word is not valid if it is found only within the Italic or 
Romance languages (Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, Italian, French, 
Spanish, Rumanian, etc) or the Germanic family (Gothic, Old 
Norse, Old English, Old High German, etc) or Slavic (Old 
Church Slavonic or Old Bulgarian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, 
etc). Even when a cognate stem is found in altogether different 
branches like, say, Greek and Baltic, it is not necessarily PIE: 


48 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

e.g. Gk daimon and Lith demonas, where the Lith word is 
borrowed from Gk (also in L and other branches). 

Then, Italian giardino, French jardin and Spanish jardin, 
all ‘garden’, come from OHG garto. Similarly ON murr, OE 
murQ rare) and OHG mura come from L mums (older moerus). 
Another difficulty related to this is that a stem occurring in a 
branch in a form not easily recognisable may be missed. A. 
Meillet, e.g., listed many words occurring in the languages of 
N-W Europe exclusive of Sanskrit, but, while he mentions 
several only to reject them as invalid, he includes L homo 
‘man’ and L vas (gen sing vadis) ‘pledge’ (1922) without 
mentioning that the first is connected with S ksam ‘earth’ and 
the second probably with S vad ‘speak’. (For more, see §9.) 

6. Variables and invariables. The second difficulty is that 
very many words in the total vocabulary of a language denote 
things that are variable. If the people move to a different, 
distant region, or if social conditions change, these terms may 
well change. This aspect was well-described by P. Thieme 
(1953). But there are also non-variables. I use the terms in a 
relative sense, of course. For instance pots are made from 
different substances (clay, wood, metal, etc) and in different 
shapes (bowl, jug, pitcher, urn, etc); the words describing 
them can over a long period change in meaning and the word 
for ‘jug’ may come to denote an ‘urn’ or vice-versa. An ear on 
the other hand, remains an ear without the danger of changing 
like a pot. Now, there is a difference between “variable” and 
“basic” vocabulary. Swadesh chose initially 200 basic words 
but later reduced them to a 100. Basic items are not necessarily 
invariable. Tea is basic to the English way of life and a kilt is 
basic to Scotsmen but neither is invariable. Swadesh includes 
words like ‘bark, grease, root, sand, yellow’, etc. These may 
be regarded as ‘basic’ but although the bark of trees may be 
used for medicinal purposes, for writing and clothing, it will be 
so used by specific people in specific conditions (literacy 
required for writing) and from specific trees; move to a 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 49 

different area, where no bark is useful and the word will be 
forgotten or changed. The colour ‘yellow’ sometimes fades 
into white and sometimes into green or lemon. Sand is 
plentiful on beaches and in deserts, but it would hardly be 
known in central Turkey, in north Greece, in Slovakia or 
Czech Republic. Then, people might well know bulbous roots, 
dug up for food or medicine, but would hardly know of the 
roots of other plants. As for grease, this can come from 
different substances and have different uses so that different 
terms may well be ascribed to it. 

Consider the case of a common stem denoting six different 
tools: S maty a ‘harrow, roller’; L mateola ‘mallet’; Gm mattoc 
‘mattock’ & medela ‘plough’; B matara ‘pole, rod’; SI motyka 
‘hammer, hoe’. This, I trust, shows clearly what I mean by 
“variable”. Some comparativists made studies of arboreal 
terms (and Mallory used this in his criticism of my paper) but 
these are utterly unreliable. Pines often look like cypress-trees 
and these like cedars or firs and so on. As one moves from one 
landscape to another and the vegetation changes, (say from 
south to north), one may well use a particular name for a tree 
that is only similar. Studies have been made also for fishes and 
birds. Here again we find variability. Consider L juni-perus 
‘juniper’, Gm fyrs ‘gorse’ and SI proso ‘millet’; if the 
cognation holds, then we have also Arm her ‘bristle, hair’ and 
S parsa ‘sheaf’! Fishes in rivers, lakes and seas are mostly 
different and fishes in the Baltic are different from those in the 
Aegean sea or in the Indian Ocean. Thieme and others argued 
about the salmon (PIE *laks?!) - and trees like the aspen. All 
these studies are not particularly useful and I disregard them. 3 


3 One short old example from A. Meillet should suffice - the tree ‘alder’: 
L alnus-, OHG elira; Lith elksnis-, OS1 jelixa. Even if the cognates could be fully 
established, we have here only L and North people. This could well be a post¬ 
dispersal development. But I don’t accept such cognations because they are so 
dissimilar and I don’t see why L and Lith have -n- while Lith and OS1 have 
-k/x. There are no such regular correspondences. 



50 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

7. The Method. I decided to examine' what would be as 
much as possible stems denoting invariables. Certain close 
and common relations in society like husband, wife, mother, 
son and so on would be invariable: these are roles that men 
and women play in all known societies in all regions. 
Invariable are also certain properties of the human being that 
enable him/her to play those roles - mind, intelligence, love, 
etc. There are also the parts of the human body - and these are 
probably the most invariable of all: wherever people go, they 
have a head, arms, feet, blood, heart and the like; we could 
never, under all normal circumstances, mistake hair for fingers 
and an eye for an ear or a mouth (though cheeks could be con¬ 
founded with jaws and the lower jaw with the chin). Then, 
there are many invariables in all environments where IEs exist: 
existence itself of multifarious creatures and things and death, 
the cessation of that existence; sun, moon, stars; day and night; 
earth, water, fire and wind; cloud, rain and snow; river (or 
stream) and lake or sea; mountain, field, forest; cold and heat; 
the tree, its branches and leaves; fruit and seeds; etc. Certain 
animals also prove to be quite constant: cow, bull, goat, sheep; 
dog, donkey, horse; bear, fox, wolf; etc. Birds, being more 
distant, like fishes, are not easily distinguishable. A good 
example is the bird S pika = ‘cuckoo’; in L picus is 
‘woodpecker’ and so is Gm specht; but another L form pica is 
‘magpie’ and OPr pic-le is ‘fieldfare’. The same stem denotes 
four different birds in different languages. Certain qualities 
(expressed by adjectives) are quite invariable: bright, dark; 
light, heavy; long, short; old, young; alive, dead; and so on. 
Invariable in all conditions are, of course, many acts and 
conditions of man, denoted by verbs: being, breathing, 
drinking, eating, dressing, sleeping, waking, moving, 
thinking, remembering, speaking, carrying, cutting, cooking, 
etc, etc. 

I took many of Swadesh’s words but also used C D Buck’s 
index (1988) to select invariables (adornment, alive, all, anger, 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 51 

animal, etc). I gathered over 500 stems and looked them up 
in Buck, Pokorny (1956), Mann (1984-7, somewhat 
substandard) and Rix (1998). I also used GEL, Frisk and SGD 
(Greek), OLD (Latin), MSD and Mayrhofer (Sanskrit). For C, 
Gm, B and SI I relied on Buck, Pokorny, Mann and Rix. 

8. Since my purpose was to discover which branch had 
most retentions, or fewest losses, I left out of detailed 
consideration all stems common to all branches. Now by “all 
branches” I mean the seven major IE branches: Indie, 
represented by S; Gk, including all Greek dialects (but not 
Men); L(atin) representing the Italic branch, but also Osc(an) 
and Umb(rian) if they have a stem where L fails; C(eltic) with 
all sub-branches from Gaul to Ireland; Gm, covering all the 
Germanic sub-branches - Gth, ON, OE and OHG; B(altic) for 
Lith, Ltt and OPr(ussian); S(lavic) including even Polish, 
Serbian etc. In citing the cognate stems I follow the order S, 
Gk, L, C, Gm, B, SI (then Alb, Arm, Ht and Toch A/B). 
Although Alb, Arm, Ht and Toch AB are not in the race 
because of their meagre retentions, nonetheless they are cited 
in many cases for the sake of completeness and in some cases 
to supply the third or fourth citation that makes a stem eligible 
as an inherited cognate. 

9. Eligibility is determined by the presence of the 
particular stem in at least three branches. If a stem is found 
in only two branches it is rejected even if one branch is in the 
east, say S, and the other in the west, say C. The Avestan, Old 
Persian and kindred sub-branches of the area are not used 
because of their closeness to Sanskrit. If S and Av were used as 
two branches with any other branch as a third, the balance 
would lean too heavily in favour of S. Av is used in 2-3 cases 
where S is missing, in order to underline the absence in S. The 
presence of a stem in two or more sub-branches of one of the 
main branches counts as one. E.g. the word for a plain or large 
expanse of ground in Gallic is -magus, in Ir mag, in Welsh 
maes etc. All these are cognates with S mahl ‘earth’ (and, of 









52 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

course, the IE common stem for ‘great, large’ S mah-/ Gk 
meg -/L mag-~). However, all the variants in the sub-branches of 
C count as one. In this instance therefore we have two 
occurrences, one C and one S. This is not included in the list. 
Obviously, as was mentioned earlier, loanwords do not count. 
All European cognates of ‘oil’ and ‘olive(-tree)’ come from 
Gk and L (which borrowed from Gk). Then, the Gm rik-r/rice 
‘rich’ meant originally ‘mighty’ and is thought to derive from 
C ri-Cg) . All such cases are ignored. I know that ceteris 
paribus the presence of a correspondence between two 
geographically remote languages is not likely to be an 
intrafamilial loan and that the presence of a correspondence in 
3 or 4 contiguous languages may well be a common loan 
(cf Bloomfield 1933: 350-60). However, I allowed the latter 
situation (say L, C, Gm or C, Gm, B, SI) to avoid accusations 
that I favour S or Gk (or anything), and express my doubt 
in brackets. 

Meaning is another criterion. If a cognate stem has in a 
particular branch a meaning different from that of the others, 
or from what seems to be closest to original PIE (though here 
one can never be absolutely certain), then this does not 
ultimately count. It is taken into account as a cognate and so 
helps establish the IE nature of the stem, but it is considered as 
absent and does not count in favour of the branch. A good 
example is the cogn for ‘bird’ (196). The stem appears as S vis/ 
ves and L a-vis, but a trace of this is found also in the Gk 
aiFetos, ‘eagle’ and oio-nos, ‘augur’. Phonetically the stem is 
a genuine IE cognate, but I consider Gk not to have the 
cognate itself; despite the presence of the stem, semantically it 
is considered absent and so Gk is said to have suffered a loss. 

I apply a similar criterion for nominal and verbal stems. 
If in the examination of a verbal stem found in some 
branch(es), a cogn stem appears in another branch but only as 
noun, then the latter does not count for its branch and the 
branch is considered to have suffered a loss. The same 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 53 

applies when a noun is being examined and only a verbal 
stem appears in a particular branch. A good example is 
‘carpenter, fashioner’. The cognate appears as S taksan, Gk 
tekton and SI tesar. A cognate vb appears in L as tex-o, 
Weave, join’ and B tasyti ‘cut, hew’ but these do not count: L 
and B have a loss. Furthermore, Gm has dehsa(la), ‘axe, 
chopper’ - obviously cogn with S etc, but it is only the 
instrument, not the agent; so this too doesn’t count. 

10 . As one proceeds in the consultation of the various 
publications it becomes obvious that all these eminent 
authorities do not agree among themselves in some cases. 
Sometimes it is easy to make a decision in favour of one or 
another. For instance, one lexicographer does not connect 
C mligin with S mrjati, ‘rub, wipe’. The C and S forms are, for 
me, very obvious cognates. Other cases are not so simple. For 
‘hide, skin’, some make cognates L coriwn, SI skura, ‘pelt’ 
and S carman. Others ignore this and see as cognates S 
caiman hide’, OHG scirm, ‘umbrella’, OPr kennens body, 
frame’ and SI cremu tent’. Although IE phonetic changes 
often occur according to certain laws within a well defined 
frame of time and conditions, there are also so many strange 
unaccountable exceptions that I would not be surprised if all 
these words turn out to be cognates. I can suppose too that 
‘skin’ could become ‘umbrella* or ‘tent’ (or vice-versa) but 
can’t see why the sound -sc- and -sr-should be preferable to 
-sk- and -c- (or vice-versa). Equally perplexing is the case of 
the cognates of ‘hand’: some see Gk cheir linked with Alb 
dare and Arm jem, others with S bar- take, hold’, still others 
with S hasta ‘hand’ (not bar-') and yet others only with 
Ht kessar. For the last two options it was necessary for IEL to 
postulate a (totally imaginary) proto-Greek *chesr-; this was 
necessitated only by S has-ta and Ht kessar. Surely here S har- 
is closer to cheir and Ht is either a cormpt form or another stem 
like has-ta. (1 would suggest yet another possibility : S kara 
‘[the hand as] maker’.) I steer clear of such disagreements. 



54 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Apart from the cases mentioned just now, I ignore of 
necessity all stems where no clear common cognate emerges 
- always with the criterion formulated in §9, i.e. a stem should 
appear at least in three of the IE branches. There are many 
stems that appear in only two branches (sometimes in several 
sub-branches): adornment, aid, army, battle, blind, cloth 
as distinct from ‘clothing’, dance, enemy, friend, forest, 
happy, hole, island, neighbour, etc, etc. This is surprising. 
These entities are invariable - except perhaps army and 
battle. Even in most ancient societies people used some 
decoration and clothing, they had friends and enemies and 
neighbours and they saw a hole, or a forest, distinct from the 
bare plain . Yet a consideration of ‘neighbour’ shows 
enormous divergences. Thus, S prati-Zvasin/ vesin, ‘one who 
dwells/settles near’; this may be connected with L victims; 
but not Gk geiton, C comarsa, Gm nealigibur etc, B kaimins 
SI susjed etc. Obviously, our modern views on such social 
matters are not the same as those of the early IEs. 

A third categoiy of stems not recorded here are pronouns 
and numerals. From my survey of the publications, it became 
apparent that on the whole these stems were fairly common to 
all branches. Some numbers like ‘twenty’ do show important 
variations or are not so widespread, but nothing significant is 
lost by these omissions. 

11. The List. 

I) Parts of the human body. Here stems for several 
members of our body are common to all branches: eye (S aksi, 
L oculus etc); navel (S nabhya , Gm naba-la, etc); tooth (S 
dant- , L dens, etc); udder (S udb -, Gk outh- , Gm uter, etc); 
hip/buttock (S sroni, Gm hlaun, etc); etc. Some have no sure 
common stem: chest, hand (S hasta or hara, Gk cheir and Ht 
kessr are not necessarily cognates as some claim), finger, 
lip(s). This is surprising since the parts of the body cannot alter 
in any environmental or social conditions. We must assume 
then that at different periods and/or places a member like the 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 55 

‘hand’ was regarded as something different according to the 
function it was thought to perform mainly; for the hand does 
many things: it takes, gives, holds, touches, makes and so on. 

1. arm : a) S bd.hu ; Gk pechus ; Gm buog ; Toch AB poke. 
Not L, C, B, SI. 

2. b) S dos (fore-arm); C doe ; B pa-duse (; SI paz-duha 
‘armpit’). Not Gk, L, Gm. 

(The group of cognates S Irma, L armus, etc denote 
‘shoulder/forepart of animal’, exc Gm arm ‘arm’!) 

3. beard : a) S bhrsti ‘bristle, point’; L barba ; Gm 
bart/beard ; B barzda ; SI brada . Not Gk, C. 

4. b) S smasru ; (L mala , maxilla ‘chin, jaw’; C smech 
‘chin’;) B smakra- ‘chin, beard’; Alb mjekrei ; Arm mauru-k, 
Ht zamangur. Not Gk, L, C, Gm, SI. 

5. belly : S udara ; Gk hoderos (=gaster ‘belly’ Hes); 
L (venter?) uterus-, B vederas. Not C, Gm, SI. 

6. blood : S asrk ■ Gk ear-, L as(s)er ; B asius ; Ht eesr-har-, 
Toch A ysar. Not C, Gm, SI. 

7. body : S kip (and ‘appearance’); L corpus ; Gm href. 
No Gk, L, C, B, SI. 

8. bone : S asthii gen °thnas); Gk osteon-, L os(s)- ; Alb ast; 
Ht hastai. Not C, Gm, B, SI. 

9. ear : a) Gk ous ; L auris ; C au ; Gm eare ; B ausis ; 
SI ucbo. Not S! 

10. b) S srotra ; C cluaVclyst-, Gm hlyst (and hliu-ma 
'hearing’) hearing. Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

11. elbow: S aratni ; Gk ol(l)en -; L ulna ; Gm elina ; SI 
arsin. Not C and B. 

12. eye brow : S bhru ; Gk o-phrus ; C bruad ; Gm brun ; 
B bruvis ; Toch A panvcin , B parwane. Not L, SI. 

13- face : S an/prati+ika ; Gk pros-op-on ; C en-ech. Not 
L, Gm, B, SI. 

14. female breast : S stana ■ Gk stenion ( =stethos , Hes); 
Gm Spane , etc; Arm stin . Not L, C, B, SI. 

15. flesh : S rnamsa-, Gm mimz. B mesa- (O Pr mensa ;) 
SI mesa-, Alb mish-, Arm mis-, Toch B misa. Not Gk, L, C. 


56 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

16. foot : S pad- ; Gk pous>pod-, Lpes>ped-, Gm jot/ 
fuoz\ (B pada- ‘foot-wear’;) Ht pata-\ Toch AB pe/pai. Not C, 
B, SI. 

17. hair : a) Gk ianthos ; C find(a) ; Gm wint-brawa ‘hair- 
brow (=eyebrow, eyelash)’. Not S, L, B, SI. (doubtful PIE) 

18. b) S roma(n) ; Ir maim-neach ; Gm rogg (so several 
scholars); SI runo ‘fleece’. Not Gk, L, B. 

19. head : a) S sir as ; Gk kara, etc; C ker-n ‘top of head’ 
(; L cere-brum ‘brain’, cemuus ‘head-first’; Gm hirni ‘brain’). 
Not L, Gm, B, SI. 

20. b) S kapala ‘skull, cup’ (cf L capis ‘cup’); L caput ; 
Gm hefud, hafola, etc. Not Gk ( kephale ?), C, B, SI. 

21. heel : S parsni ; Gk pteme ; L pema ; Gm fiersn ; Ht 
parsna- . Not C, B, SI. 

22. jaw : S harm ; Gk genus ; C gen ; Gm cin/kin ; B zan- 
das(?) ; Toch A sanwem (f. dual). Not L, SI. 

23. knee : S janu ; Gk gonu ; L genu ; Gm kniu. Not C, B, 
SI. 

24. liver : S yakrt (gen °knas); Gk hepar (gen °patos)-, 
L iecur, B jaknos. Not C, Gm, SI. 

25. marrow : S majja ; Gm maifajg ; SI mozzu 'brains’; 
Toch A massunt. Not Gk, L, C, B. 

26. mouth : S as- ; L oas ; C a (; Gm oss ‘rivermouth’). 
Not Gk, Gm, B, SI. 

27. nail : S nakha ; Gk onux ; L unquis ; B nag(a)s. Not C, 
Gm, SI. 

28. neck : a) L collum-, Gm hals-, B kaklas-, Not S, Gk, C, SI 
where the stem denotes ‘circle’ (S cakra, Gk kuklos, etc). 

29. b) S manya\ (L monile necklace;) C muin(e) (; Gm 
men(e) ‘necklace’, mana ‘mane’). Not Gk, L, Gm, B, SI. 

30. c) S griva ; Gk der Fa (Arcadian), dere ; B gnva ‘river- 
mouth’(; SI griva ‘mane’). Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

31. nose : S nas- ; L nans ; Gm nasa ; B nosis ; SI nosi. Not 
Gk, C. 

32. palm of hand : S prtha ; Gk palame ; L palma ; Ht 
pal-tana. Not C, Gm, B, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 57 

33. penis : S pasas ; Gk peos ; L penis (*pes-ni-); Gm fasal. 
Not C, B, SI. 

34. shoulder : S amsa ; Gk omos ; L ume-ms ; Gm ams ; 
Arm us. Not C, B, SI. 

35. sinew, tendon : S snavan, Gk neuron, L nemos-, Gm 
snuor, B snawara ; Arm neards . Not C, SI. 

36. spleen® : S plihan--, Gk splen ; L lieu-, Arm plaicaln, etc; 
all exc Gm. 

37. testicle : Av 3r8zz (dual); Gk orchis, C virige, (B erzilas 
‘ungelded horse’;), Alb herde, Arm oijik. Not S, L, Gm, B, SI. 

38. throat : S gala-, L gula-, Gm ceole ; B ger-kle ; SI grulo. 
Not Gk, C. 

39. tongue : S jihvd ; OL dingua ; C tengfej; Gm tuggo ; 
B liezuvis ; S jezyku ; Arm lezu ; Toch kdnto. Not Gk. 

40. tooth, molar : S jambha ; Gk gomphos ; SI zebu ; Alb 
dhemb ; Toch AB kam/keme. Not L, C, Gm, B. 

II) Man’s properties and conditions. Here we examine 
cognates of man’s properties or attributes. Very few properties 
like ‘name’ (S nama, L nomen, etc) and ‘thirst’ (S trs(n)a, 
C tart, etc) have common cognates in all seven branches. 

41. anger, envy : S irsyd ; Gk are ‘ruination’, areie 
‘invective’; (L errare ‘err’;) Gm irre, rasen ‘rage’; B arsu- 
‘violence’; Arm her ‘rage’; Ht arsani- ‘envy’. Not L, C, SI. 

42. anxiety : S amhas-, Gk agchos, achos ; L angor, 
anxietas ; Gm ang(u)st ; SI qzos-tu . Not C, B. 

43. care, consideration : S smarana, smrti (and 
‘memory’); Gk merimna ; (L memor ‘remembering’;) Arm 
mormok. Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

44. debt : C dlig/dyl-ed ; Gm dulgs ; SI dlugu. Not S, Gk, 
L, B. (Not PIE probably.) 

45. desire, love : S lobha ‘longing, greed’; L lu-/li-bido 
‘desire, pleasure’; Gm lufu/liubi ‘love’; SI ljubi. Not Gk, C, B. 
(There are many other stems for this but all diverse.) 

46. dominance : C flaith ‘sovereignty’; Gm waldan-, 
B valdan ; SI vlada. Not S, Gk, L. 


58 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

47. energy, force : S vayas ; Gk is ; L vi-res (pi). Not C, 
Gm, B, SI. 

48. fear : S bhaya/bhiti ; (Gm vbs beofian, biben ;) B 
buime/buile ; SI boja-zni. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

49- guilt : S agas ; Gk (h)agos (and ‘pollution’); Gm aece 
(vb acari) ‘pain, wrong’. Not L, C, B, SI. 

50. life(-time) : S ayus ; Gk aidn (and ‘vital power’); L 
aevum ; Alb eshe ■ Toch A aym. Not C, Gm (but 

aiws ‘time, eternity’), B, SI. 

51. mind : S manas-, L mens, °ntis\ C men-me, Gm munr 
(ON), myneiO'E-. ‘desire’ and sometimes ‘mind’; cfGoth muns 
‘thought, intention’). Not Gk, B and SI. (Interestingly the 
Greek cogn menos means ‘might, force’ showing that the 
Greeks took only this quality for the stem that originally 
denoted ‘mind’ believing that might came from mind?) 

52. power, prevalence : S > I sab n, vb; Gk isch- ‘power’, 
e(s)cho ‘possess’; Gm sig-e/or ‘victory’. Not L, C, B, SI 

53. reward : S midha-, Gk misthos ; Gm mizdo ; SI 
mizdha . Not L, C, B. 

54. toil, tiredness : S ^Isam ; Gk kam- toil’, a-kama- 
‘tireless’; C cuma ‘grief’. Not L, Gm, B, SI. 

55. vehemence : S urj-a ; Gk orge (and ‘fury’); C fere 
‘anger’. Not L, Gm, B, SI. 

Ill) Human relations. Here all the closest ones (father, 
mother, etc ( appear in almost all the branches except Ht which 
has none! Surprisingly, on the other hand, we find no sure 
cognates for ‘compatriot, enemy, friend, guest, neighbour, 
stranger’ and many others. At that early period, it seems 
people had different ideas about such social relations. 

56. brother : S bhratr ; etc; in all exc Gk (phrater only as 
a member of ‘brotherhood’ phratria) and Ht. 

57. chief, king : S raj- ; L rex, regius ; C ri(-x) . Not Gk, 
Gm, B, SI. 

58. child, son : S putra ; (Gk polos ‘foal’); L puer (pullus 
‘young animal’; B putytis ‘chicken’; SI pta-k ‘bird’). Not Gk, 
C, Gm, B, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 59 

59- carpenter, fashioner : S taksan -; Gk tekton ; (L tex- 
‘weave, fit, plait; Gm dehsa ‘axe’;) SI tesar (vb tesati and B 
tasyuti ‘cut, hew’). Not L, C, Gm, B. 

60. clan/tribe : S jana/jati (<^jan)\ Gk germs ( phule)\ 
L gens (tribus ); Gm kyn/cyn(n) . Not C, B and SI. 

61. companion : S sakhd ; L socius ‘common’; Gm seggr 
(ON); Arm and Iran asakert ‘disciple, follower’. Not Gk, L, C, 
B, SI. 

62. daughter : S duhitr; etc; for the Italic branch Osc 
futir ; the cogn is not in C and Ht. 

63- daughter-in-law : S snusd ; Gk nuos ; L nurus ; Gm 
snur ; SI snucha ; Arm nu. Not C, B (and Ht). 

64. father : S pitr- Gk pater ; L pater, C athir ; Gm fadar. 
Not B, SI and Ht. 

65. fortified community : S pur- ; Gk (akro-)polis ; B pilis/ 
pits . Not L, C, Gm, SI. 

66. husband/master : S pati ; Gk posis ■ (L potis ‘capable’ 
only;) Gm -fafrs (Gth); B pats ; SI -podi. Not L and C. 

67. husbands’ brother : S devr ; Gk daer ; etc; in all exc 
C (and Ht). 

68. inspired one, poet : S api-vatat- ‘one understanding’; 
L vates ; C faith ; Gm wod ‘one possessed’. Not Gk, B, SI. 

69 . man : a) S nr-/nar -; Gk a-ner ; Osc ner-um ; C ner ; 
Alb njer. Not Gm, B and SI. Cf also S sunara ‘mighty’ and Gk 
ev-enor ‘vigorous’ (where (endr links with aner, giving 
another stem). 

70. b) S man-u\ Gm man-n\ SI mozi\ Not Gk, L, C and B. 

71. c) L homo ; Gm gum- ; B zmogus ; Toch A/B som/ 
saum; Not S, Gk and SI. 

72. d) S vira ‘hero’; L vir- and Umb v(e)iro ‘man’; Gm 
ivair ; B vyras. Not Gk, SI. 

73. mother : S matr ; etc; in all, exc B (but mote ‘wife’), 
Alb (but motre ‘sister’) and Ht. 

74. people : (S situ > taviti ‘has authority’;) L totus 
‘whole’, Osc touto ‘populace’; C tuath ; Gm piuda ; B tauto. 
Not S, Gk, SI. 


60 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

75. sage, silent one : S muni ‘seer, silent’ ; Gk muna- 
ros ‘silent one (Hes), mun-dos ‘mute, silent’; SI munaQO 
‘mute’. Not L, C, Gm, B. 

76. settlement : S a-saya ‘place of rest, retreat’; Gk vb 
kei-mai ‘lie, rest, settle’, kome village; Gm baims, heimr ; B 
saime ‘family’. Not L, C, SI. 

77. sister : S svasr ; etc; in all exc Gk (eor ‘daughter’ in 
Hes) and Ht. 

78. son : S sunu ; Gm sunu(s) ; B sunus ■ SI synit ; in Gk 
hui- and Toch B soy- both questionably related being 
decayed forms. Not Gk, L, C and Ht. 

79. son-in-law : S jamatr ; Gk gambros ; L gener 
(<*gemer?y, B zentas ; SI zetu. Not C, Gm (and Ht). 

80. thief : S tdyu, stena ; Gk vb tetaomai ‘be in want’, 
teusios ‘idle’; C tend ; SI tati ; Ht tayezzi ‘steals’. Not L, Gm, B. 

81. twin : S yama ; L geminus ; C emon ; B jumis . 
Not Gk, Gm, SI (and Ht). 

82. uncle (father’s brother) : S pitrvya ; Gk patros ; 
L patruus ; Gm fetiro (and ‘cousin’). Not C, B, SI (and Ht). 

83. widow : S vidhavd ; L vidua ■ C fedh; etc ; in all exc Gk 
(and Ht). 

84. wife/mistress : Here again one would expect a stem 
related to no 66. Indeed - S pathi ; Gk potnia ; B pati . Not L, 
C, Gm and SI which have mostly disparate stems. 

85. woman : now, if the stem for man is nar/ner, then it 
would not be surprising to have a related stem for woman; but 
only S has this as nan . We find: S jani (f of jana ‘creature, 
man ) also gnd ‘divine woman’; Gk gune ; Gm qino, ewene, 
SI zena ; Arm kin . Not L, C and B. 

IV) Environment Natural Here again several stems are 
common to all branches: ‘light’ (S rue, L lux etc); earth 
(5 ksam-, Gk chthon , etc, but not Gm, where guma = man); 
month (S mas, Gk men etc); snow (L nix, Gm sneo , etc, but 
not S, where sneha ‘sticky substance, love’); night (Gk nux, 
L nox , etc); dawn (S usds , B ausra , etc); sun (Gk hel-, L sol, 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 6l 

etc but not Gm). But again many things have no sure 
common stem - forest, lake, island, medicine, etc. 

86. apple : C aball, aval ; Gm ap(p)el ; B ?at(u)ols ; SI 
( pabluko. Not S, Gk, L. (I doubt this is PIE.) 

87. ash(es) : S asa ; Gm as-ca, az-go ; Arm ac-cum ; (cf SI 
oz-diti ‘malt’; Toch A asar ‘be dry’;). Not in Gk, L, C, B, SI. 

88. being, creature : S bhuti ; Gk pbusis ‘nature, 
essential being’; B bu(i)tis ‘existence’; SI bytu ‘being, 
creature’. Not L, C, Gm. 

89. blade, thorn : S tma ‘blade, grass’; Gm fiaumus ; 
SI trunu . Not Gk, L, C, B. 

90. bottom : S budhna , Gk puthmen ; L fundus, Gm 
bodam; Not C, B, SI. 

91. branch : a) S sakba- (C ceht ‘forked stick, plough’; 
Gm hoha ‘plough’;) B saka; SI socha-, Arm sax . Not Gk, L, C, 
Gm. 

92. b) S vaya ; (C ve ‘measuring rod’; Gm vidir ‘willow’;) 
B vitys ‘osier’; SI veja, vetev. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

93. cold, frost, winter : S hima / heman ; Gk chime-, - 
chimo ‘storm, frost’, cheima, °mon ; L hiems ; C gemrad, 
B ziema ; SI zima ; Ht gemi, gimi ‘cold, winter’. Not Gm. 

94. cloud, fog : S megha ; Gk o-michle ; B migla ; SI 
mugla ; Arm meg . Not L, C, Gm. 

95- darkness, dust, mist: S rajas ; Gk erebos ; Gm rigis; 
Ami erek ‘evening’. Not L, C, B, SI. 

96. dawn : S usds ; Gk eos ; L aujsjrora ; (Gm eostre 
‘goddess of spring’, OE;) B ausra. Not C, Gm, SI. 

97. day : S dina ; L (dies ?) nun-dinae ‘ninth/market day’; 
B diena . Not Gk, C, Gm, SI. 

98. death : S mrtyu ; L mor-s/-tis (gen); B mirtis, 
SI sumrutu. Not Gk, C, Gm. 

99- dust: S dhuli ; (Lfuligo ‘rust’;) Gm dufnjst ; B dul-is/ 
kes ; SI duzdu ‘rain’. Not Gk, L, C, SI. 

100. egg : Gk oon ; L ovum ; C og etc; Gm egg/ei ; SI aj- 
ice. Not S, B. 

101. end : S anta ; C et ; Gm ende ; Ht ha-anza . Not Gk, 
L, B, SI. 


62 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

102 . excrement : S gutha ; Gm quat SI govno ; Arm ku. 
Not Gk, L, C, B. 

103. expansion, swelling : S pus- ; Gk phusa ‘pustule’; 
L pus-tula ‘swelling’; SI pys-nyj ‘laxuriant’. Not C, Gm, B. 

104 . field : S ajra ; Gk agros ; L ager ; Gm akrs ; Arm art. 
Not C, B, SI. 

105. fire : a) S agni ; L ignis ; B ugnis ; SI ognu ; Ht Agnis 
‘Firegod’. Not Gk, C and Gm. 

106 . b) Gk pur ; Gm fou/fyr ; Ht pahhur, Toch A/B por/ 
puwar. Not S, L, C, B, SI. 

107 . flower : L flos, °floris ; C blath ; Gm bloma ; Not S, 
Gk, B, SI. (original PIE?) 

108 . heat : S gharma-, Gk therm-, L form--, Gm warm/ 
varm-, O Pr gorme, Alb zjarm-, Arm ferm. Not C, B, SI. 

109- juice, sap : S rasa ‘juice, liquid’; L ros ‘dew, fluid’; 
B and SI rasa, rosa ‘dew, fluid’. Not Gk, C, Gm. 

110 . b) S sava ; L su-cus ; C suthi ; Gm sou ( su-gan ) . Not 
Gk, B, SI. 

111 . leaf : Gk phullon ; L folium ; C bile ; Gm bla-t. Not S, 
B, SI. 

112 . moon : S mas ; Gm mona ; B menuo ; SI mesic-, 
Toch A/B mah/mene. Not Gk ( meis/men- only ‘month’), 
L ( mensis ‘month’), C ( ml ‘month’). 

113- mountain : S giri ; Gk deirds ‘hill, mount’ (Hes); 
B nu-gara ‘mountain-ridge’; SI gora. Not L, C, Gm. 

114. mud : S pahka ; Gm fani/fen ; B pannean ‘swamp¬ 
land’; SI panca (C zecb). Not Gk, L, C, Si. 

115 . order : S rta/rtu ; Gk artus ‘limbs (ordered in the 
body)’; Arm ard ‘ordered structure’. Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

116 . path : S pa(n)th- ; Gk patos ; Gm pas ft ; OPrpintis ; 
SI pqtu ; Arm hun (?). Not L, C. 

117 . poison : S visa ; Gk ios ; L virus ;Cfi; Not Gm, B, SI. 

118 . rain : a) S varsa ; Gk (h)erse ‘dew, raindrop-s’; 
C frass ‘shower’ (Mir). Not L (pluvia cogn with S plu-, Gk pled 
‘float, sail’), Gm, B, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 63 

119 . b) S abhra ; Gk ombros ; L imber ; Arm amb. Not C, 
Gm, B, SI. 

120 . sea : L mare ; C muir, mor ; Gm morei, etc; B mares ; 
SI morje. Not S, Gk. 

121 . season, summer : S sama ; C sam ; Gm sumar ; 
Arm am ‘year’; Toch A ‘rainseason’. Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

122 . seed : a) L se-men ; C si-l, had- ; Gm soed , sa-mo ; 
B se-kla ; SI se-me. Not S, Gk. 

123 . b) S bija ; B miezys ; Arm (and Iranian) msak ‘seed- 
sower’. Not Gk, L, C, Gm, SI. 

124 . shade : S chaya ; Gk skia ; Gm scuo ; SI sje-na, cien ; 
Alb he ; Toch B skiyo. Not L, C, B. 

125 . sickness : C serg ; Gm sorg/sorh ‘anguish’; B serga 
‘disease’. Not S, Gk, L, SI. (S saiga < Vs/7' ‘emanation’?) 

126 . sky, cloud : S nabhas ; Gk nephos ‘mist’; C nem/nef-, 
B debes-is ; SI nebo ; Ht nepis . Not L, Gm. 

127 . smoke : S dhuma ; L fumus ; C de -, dumacha ; Gm 
toum (and ‘steam’); B dumai, SI dymii. Not Gk (thumos 
‘spirit, passion’). 

128 . star : S star- ; Gk aster ; L Stella ; C sterenn ; Gm 
stairno ; Arm astl -; Toch A/B sren/.cirye. Not B, SI. 

129 . stone : a) S asman (also ‘sky’); Gk akmon ‘anvil, 
sky’; C cefn (?); Gm himins-, B akmu-, asmen -; SI kamen (?). 
Not L. 

130 . b) Gk stia ‘pebble’; Gm stein ; SI stijena. Not S (but 
'Istyd ‘be stiff), L, C, B. 

131 . stream/river : S srotas (sarit , nadi ); Gk rheuma, 
rhoos ; C ( sruaimm ), sruth ; Gm strom-, B srava, sriove-, 
SI struja. Not L. 

132 . surface : S tala ; Gk telia ; (L tellus ‘earth’;) Gm dilo. 
Not L, C, B, SI. 

133 . sweat : S sveda ; Gk hid-ros ; L sudor ; OE swat ; 
B sviedri (pi). Not C, SI. 

134 . top : S varsman (adj varstyas ‘higher’); B virsus-, 
SI vruchu. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 



64 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

135. tree : S dru-ma\ Gk dru-s ‘oak’-, dru-mos ‘forest’; 
Gm tre (ON), dro-m ‘thicket, forest’ (OE); SI dre-vo (?). Not L, 
C, B. 

136. water : a) S udan ; Gk hudor\ etc, in all exc L ( unda 
‘wave’). 

137. b) L aqua ; Gm ahwa/ea ‘river’; Ht eku/aku; Toch 
yok ‘drink’. Not S, Gk, C, B, SI. 

138. c) S ap- Capas pi); B upe ; OPr ape ; Toch AB dp (0. 
Not Gk, L, C, Gm, SI. 

139- d) S var-i; Gk our- (and ‘urine’); (L urina ‘urine’, 
urinor ‘dive’;) Gm var-/ur\ B jura ‘sea’. Not L, C, SI. 

140. wave : S urmi (Sval ‘turn’); (Gk eild ‘roll, turn’; 
L volvo ‘turn’;) Gm uylm ; B vilnis ; SI vluna. Not Gk. L, C. 

141. wind : S vata ; etc, in all exc Gk ( ane-mos , cogn with 
L anima and S ana ‘breath’) and B. 

142. wound : Gk oule ‘scar’; L vulnus ; C gouli, Gm waol 
‘pestilence’; Not S, B, SI. 

143. year : S vatsa-ra ; Gk fetos ; L vetus ; B vetusas ; 
SI vetuchu ; Alb vit ; Ht idtt. Not C, Gm. 

V) Environment Man-made . Several stems are 
common to all seven branches: axle, door, edge/rim, wool, 
etc. But just as many have no common stem - army, battle, 
cloth as distinct from ‘clothing’, etc. Apart from some 
exceptions,foodstuffs, clothing, tools and various utensils are 
not examined since they are highly variable. 

144. awl : S dra ; Gm al, dla ; O Pr ylo ; B yla . Not Gk, 
L, C, SI. 

145. axe : Gk axine-\ L ascia ; Gm oex. Not S, C, B, SI. 

146. band : S bandh-a/ana ; Gk peisma (?); C buinne ; 
Gm bandi. Not L, B, SI. 

147. beam : Gm balca ; B balkis ; SI balka. Not S, Gk, L, C 
. (Highly doubtful PIE.) 

148. bed : Gk lechos ; L lectus ; etc, all exc S, B. 

149- belt, girdle : Gk zoster, B juosta ■ SI po-jasu ; Av 
yah-. Not S, L, C, Gm. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 65 

150. board : S phalaka ; Gm fjql ; SI pol. Not Gk, L, C, B. 

151- bowl, cup : S kalasa ; Gk kalux ; L calix ; OE caelic. 
Not C, B, SI. (The words ‘cup’, C copan, Gm cuppe etc are 
thought to derive from L cuppa?) 

152. bread : (Gk klib-anos ‘oven for baking bread’;) Gm 
hlaf ; B klaips ; SI chlebu. Not S, Gk, L, C. (Highly doubtful 
PIE.) 

153. buckle, fastening : S (a)sahjana ; C sen ‘harbour- 
net’; Gm senkel ‘shoe-fastening’; B segu. Not Gk, L, SI. 

154. butter : S sarpis ; Gk helpos (Hes); Gm salba ; Alb 
gjalp ; Toch salyp-e . Not L, C, B, SI. 

155- cask, covering : S kosa ‘cask (for valuables)’; Gm 
huz -d (Gth), hauss (ON) ‘skull’, hosa (OE) ‘husk’; B kiause 
‘skull (=brain cask)’. Not Gk, L, C, SI. 

156. copper, ore : S loha ‘red metal’; L rodus ; Gm 
a-ruzzi ; SI ruda. Not Gk, C, B. 

157. cord : S sindti/sinoti/syati ‘bind’ ( siman ‘hair¬ 
parting, boundary’); Gk himas, °mant\ C sim ‘chain, cordon’; 
Gm sim-i/o ; B sai-te ‘bond’. Not L, SI. 

158. cover, shelter : S sarman ; Gk kalumma-, (L celo 
‘cover’ vb; C celim vb;) Gm hilms 'helmet? vb helan, Not L, 
C, B, SI. 

159- curve, hook : S anka ; Gk ogkos ‘hook’; L uncus ; 
C ekath ‘hook’. Not Gm, B, SI. 

160. dough : C tdiz , toaz ; Gm theesma ; SI testa. Not S, 
Gk, L, B. (Improbable PIE.) 

161. edge, tip : S asani ; Gk akon ‘lance’ ( akone 
‘whetstone’); L agna ‘ear (of corn)’; B asms. Not C, Gm, SI. 

162. fight : S yudh- and vb; Gk husmine ; (L iubeo 
‘command’;) C -iud ‘fighter’; (B judeti ‘agitate’;) SI o-juminu 
‘warrior’ and judzic ‘excite’. Not L, Gm, B. 

163. floor : S tala ‘surface’; Gm dil ; OPr talus ; SI tilo. 
Not Gk, L, C. 

164. flour, meal : C blend ; Gm melu ; B milti ; Ht 
memal. Not S, Gk, L, SI. (I doubt it is PIE.) 

165. grain, barley : a) S yava ; Gk zeiai (pi); B javas ; SI 
jevin, ovin, Ht ena (?). Not L, C, Gm. 


66 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

166. b) S dhana ‘corn’; Gk danake ; (B duona ‘bread';) 
Toch B tano. Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

167. honey : a) Gk meli ; L mel ; C mil ; Gm milifr (Gth 
only); Arm melr . Not S, B, SI. 

168. b) S madhu ‘honey, sweet drink’; Gk methu ‘wine’; 
C mit , Gm metu ‘mead’; B, SI medu 'honey’. Not L. 

169 . house : a) S dama ; Gk domos ; L domus ; SI domii. 
Not C, Gm, B. 

170. b) C both/bod ‘dwelling’; Gm bud ; B butas. Not S, 
Gk, L, SI. 

171. c) S Vzds; Gk oikos; L vicus; Gm weihs , wic ; SI visi. 
Not C, B. 

172. incision, line : S rekha-, (Gk ereiko ‘rend’;) 
C rbwgg ; Gm riga (; B riekti ‘cut(bread)’). Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

173. metal : S ayas ; L aes ; Gm aiz. Not Gk, C, B, SI. 

174. mill-stone : C breuan ; Gm quirn-, B girnos; 
SI zruny, Arm erkan. No S, Gk, L. (Despite its incidence in 
the 5 branches this stem may well not be PIE. The S gravan 
has now been shown to mean ‘singer’ not the stone for 
pressing Soma: see Thomson 2001.) 

175. plough : Gk arotron ; L aratrum ; C arathar ; B ar- 
kl- (?); SI radio. Not S (vb S vrka ?), Gm (Gth arjan ‘plough, 
cultivate’). 

176. pot : S cam-. C coire ; Gm hwer(r). Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

177. price, roof : S ysthag ; Gk steg- ; etc, all exc B, SI. 

178. value : S vasna ; Gk one ; (L veno ‘sale’;) Arm gin-, 
Ht uas J buy’. Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

179- shield : L scutum ; C sciath ; (Gm sci-d/t ‘board’;) 
B skydas ■ Si stitu (?). Not S, Gk (unless aspis, °idos), Gm. 

180. sickle : S srni ; Gk har-pe ; (L seira ‘saw’;) B siipe, 
SI surpu. Not L, C, Gm. 

181. soup/broth : S yus ; L ius ; B juse ; SI jucha. Not Gk, 
C, Gm. 

182. spear : a) S sula ‘spike’; Gk kelon ‘shaft’; C cail ; 
OPr \telian. Not L, Gm, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 67 

183- b) S heti ‘missile’; Gk chaios ‘staff (gaison < C); C 
goaf-, Gm gar. Not L, B, SI. 

184. spindle a) S tarku-, Gk a-trak-tos; (L torqueo 
‘twist’;) SI traku ‘girdle’; Toch A tark ‘earring’. Not L, C, 
Gm, B. 

185. b) S vartula (lex); C fertas etc; Gm wirtel ; SI verteno. 
Not Gk, L, B. 

186. thread : S snayu ‘si’new, string’; Gk nema ; C 
snathe ; SI niti. Not L, Gm, B. 

187. wheel: a) S cakra ; Gk kuklos ; Gm hweol ; Toch AB 
kukal/kokale. Not L, C, B, SI. 

188. b) (S ratha ‘chariot’;) L rota-, C roth ; Gm rad ; B 
ratas. Not S, Gk, SI. 

189. [piece of] wood : S daru ; Gk doru ‘shaft, spear 
(tree)’; (C daur ‘acorn’')-, Gm triu ‘tree’ (Gth); Ht taru. 
Not L, C. 

190. work : S apas; Gk aph(e)nos ‘wealth’, ompne 
‘livelihood’; L opus , ops ‘aid, wealth’; Gm uoha ‘festival’, 
uobe ‘farmer’ (OE aefnan ‘to work’). Not C, B, SI. 

VI) Animals. Some animals’ names present a sure 
common stem: cow (S gau, L bos, etc), sheep (S avis, B avis 
etc), swine (Gk, L su- etc), dog (S svan, Gk kuon etc), horse 
(S asva , Gm eoh etc), flea (S plusi, Gm floh etc), ant (S vamra, 
L formica etc, but not B). Many, like donkey and camel, have 
thoroughly disparate stems. Most birds too belong to this 
category with the notable exception of goose/swan 
(S hamsa, Gm gans etc) and duck (Gk nessa, SI aty etc; not 
C). Fishes also have diverse stems. 

191. animal : a) Gk zoon ; C bea-thach ; B gyvolis-, SI 
zivotu . Not S, L, Gm. 

192. b) (cattle:) S pasu ; L pecu ; Gm fihu ; O Pr pecku, 
B pekus. Not Gk, C, SI. 

193. c) (wild:) Gk ther(ion) ; L ferus ; O Pr swirin -, B 
zver(i)s ; SI zven. Not S, C, Gm. 


68 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

194. bear : S rksa ; Gk arktos; L ursus ; C art ; Arm arj- ; 
Alb ari-. Not Gm, B, SI. 

195. beaver : L fiber ; C befer ; Gm bibar ; B bebrus ; SI 
bobr. Not Gk and S, which has babhru ‘(red-) brown’ and 
babhmka ‘ichneumon’, which is of this colour. 

196. bird : S vis/ves ; (Gk aiFetos ‘eagle’, oionos ‘augur’; 
/ L avis ; Not Gk, C, Gm, B, SI. 

197. cow : S ahi (lex); (Av : azi- ‘(cow/mare) with 
young’;) C ag ; Arm ez-n . Not Gk, L, Gm, B, SI. 

198. deer, elk : S rsya ‘male antelope’; Gk ela-phos ; 
C elain ; Gm elch ; etc, all exc L. 

199- feather, wing : S patra ; Gk petri- ; L -piter, (C atar 
‘bind’;) Gm fjodr. Not C, B, SI. 

200. feather, leaf : S parna ; Gk pteron ‘wing’, pteris 
‘fern’; OE feam fern’; B s-pamas ‘feather’, pa-par-tis ‘fern’; 
SI pero ‘feather’. Not L, C. 

201. fish : L piscis ; C xasc ; Gm fisk. Not S, Gk, B, SI. 

202. fox : S lopasa ; Gk a-lopex ; (L vulpes ;) C louam ; 
B tape. Not L, Gm, SI. 

203. goat : S eda (some prefer aja ); Gk aix (gen aig-os) ; 
B ozys ; O Pr wosee ; Arm aic. Not L, C, Gm, SI. 

204. hare : S sasa ; C ceinach ; Gm haso ; O Pr sasius. Not 
Gk, L, SI. 

205. horn : S srnga ; Gk kerns ; L cornu ; Gm haum. Not 
C, B, SI. 

206. louse : S yiika ; Gm lus ; C lleun ; B ute , liule ; 
SI vusu. (So several scolars.) Not Gk, L. 

207. meat : S k ravis ; Gk kreas . (L cruor ‘blood from 
wound’; C cro ‘blood’); OE hreaw ‘bloody, raw (meat)’; 
B kruvinas ‘bloody’. Not L, C, SI 

208. mouse : S mils ; Gk mils , L mils ; etc, all exc C, B. 

209. nest: S nida ; L nidus; C net; Gm nest; B lizdas ; SI 
gnezdo , Arm nist. Not Gk. 

210. ox/bull: S uksan ( uksciti ■. ‘moisten’); C ych/o’chen ; 
Gm auhsa/ohso . Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

211. pig : L porcus ; C ore ; Gm fearb ; B parsas ; SI prase. 
Not S, Gk. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 69 

212. serpent : S sarpa; Gk herpeton , L serpens ; C sarff. 
Not Gm, B, SI. (In C and Gm only the cognates nathir (Ir) and 
nadr (ON)/ nadra (OE).) 

213. snake : S ahi ; Gk echi-Zophi- ; L anquis ; B angis ; 
SI uz/waz. Not Gm, C. 

214. worm : S krmi ; C cruim ; B kirmis ; SI cruvi. 
Not Gk, L, Gm. 

VII) Qualities (adjectives) Many ajectives have sure 
cognate stems: alive (S jiva, L vivus etc); big (S mah-, L mag- 
etc, but not B, Si); narrow (S amhu, B ank- stas, etc); light 
(of weight: S laghu , Gm leihts etc); right (of direction: S daks, 
L dex-, C dess etc); new (S nava , Gk neo- etc); old (S sana, 
L sene tc but not SI); grey/hoary with stem pal- (not Gm, 
where fal ‘fallow'). But some common terms like those 
denoting ‘far’ and ‘near’ have no clear common stems. 
Colours and the generic term itself are on the whole very 
unclear: white (not ‘bright-white’ S arjuna, Ht harkii etc), 
yellow (often as ‘green’), brown, black, blue etc; exception 
is ‘red’ (S mdhii'a, Gk eruthro- etc). Stems for directions east, 
west etc are very diverse. 

215. all/every/whole : a) S visva ; O Pr wissa ; B visas ; 
SI vesic , visi. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

216. b) S sarva ; Gk holos ; L salvus ; C (h)uile. 
Not Gm, B, SI. 

217. bitter, sour : S am la ; L amarus ; Gm ampfaro ; 
B amuols ; Alb emble ; Arm amok. Not Gk, C, SI. 

218. bright : S bhraj-a ; C berth ; Gm bairhts, beraht • 
Ht parkwis ‘pure’. Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

219. daring : S dhrsnu-, Gk thras/ thars-us ; Gm gu-dars ; 
B drasus ; SI druzu. Not L, C. 

220. dark : S tamasa; C temen ; Gm din-star-, B tamsas ; 
SI taman. Not Gk, L. 

221. deaf : S badhira -, C bodar etc; Gm baufrs ; Arm hot 
‘blunt’. Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

222. dear, intimate: a) S priya-, C rhydd ( =priya ) ‘free’; 
Gm fri ‘free’, frijon ‘dear’; SI prija-je. Not Gk, L, B. 



70 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

223. b) S seva ; (L c(e)ivis ‘citizen’;) Gm heiwa-(frauja) 
‘host, master’; B sieva ‘wife’. Not Gk, L, C, SI. 

224. deep : C dwf-n ; Gm deop ; B dubus ‘hollow’. Not S, 
Gk, L, SI. (PIE very doubtful.) 

225. dense : S > lta(n)c-■ C teht ; Gm jbe^r(ON); B tankus. 
Not Gk, L, SI. 

226. difficult, -ill-, mal : S dus ; Gk dus- ; C do/du-; 
Gm tuz/zur-; SI duz-. Not L, B. 

227. dirty, black : S malina; Gk melas; L malus ‘bad’ 
etc; (Gm mal ‘blemish’;) B meins ‘black, dirty’ and melsvas 
‘bluish’. Not C, Gm, SI. 

228. dry : S suska ■ Gk havos ; Gm sear (OE); B sausas ; 
SI suchti. Not L, C. 

229. empty : S tucchya ; (L tesqua ‘desert’); B tuscias ; 
SI tustu. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

230. fast : S asu -; Gk oku-; L ocior ‘faster’ (compar.); 
C di-auc. Not Gm, B, SI. 

231. firm ; S dhruva- Gk droon ‘strong’ (Hes); Gm triuwi 
‘true, staunch’; B dmtas; SI su-dravu. Not L, C. 

232. first, former : S purva; Gm forw - (OE dial); 
SI pruvu; Alb pare-, Toch AB parwat/pdrve. Not Gk, L, C, B. 

233. foreign, next, other : S arana, an- Gk alios ; L ollus 
‘that (other) one’, alius ‘stranger’; C alllos ; SI lani. 
Not Gm, B. 

234. good : a) S vasu ; C -vesus (in names); Gm wisu- 
Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

235. b) prefix S su-; Gk hu/eu-; C su/so/hy--, B su-\ SI su- 
Not L, Gm. 

236. green(-ish) : S hari(-ta) ; Gk chloro--, B zelvas , 
SI zelenu. Not L, C, Gm. 

237. heavy : S gum ; Gk bam-; etc in all exc C, SI. 

238. lesser : S hrasva ‘short, weak, unimportant’; 
Gk cherion ; C gair, garait ‘short of life’. Not L, Gm, B, SI. 

239. long : S dirgha ; Gk dolichos ; B ilgas (loss of d); 
SI dlugu ; Ht dalugaes . Not L, C, Gm (unless loss of d in stem 
lang- ?). 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 71 

240. low : a) Gk ch(th)amalos ; L humilis ; B zem(a)s: all 
from stem for ‘earth’. Not S, C, Gm, SI. 

241. b) S nitara--, Gm nperlic ; SI nizuku. Not Gk, L, C, B. 

242. many, much : S puru- ; Gk polu L plus ‘more’; C 
il, ile (pi); Gm filu . Not B, SI. 

243. much, thick : S bahu(la) ; Gk pachu--, (cf ON bingr 
‘heap’;) B biezs thick; Ht pankus ‘whole’. Not L, C, Gm, SI. 

244. paternal : S pitrya ; Gk patrio -; L patrius ■ C aithre. 
Not Gm, B, SI. 

245. perpetual : S nitya ; Gm nitpris, nidir ; C mho. 
Not Gk, L, B, SI. 

246. quiet : S sama ‘calm, even’; C sciirn (sum ‘rest’ n); 
Gm som (OE) ‘agreement’. Not Gk, L, C, SI. 

247. raw : S ama ; Gk omo-; C ora ; Arm hum . Not L, Gm, 
B, SI. 

248. slow : (Gk led- ‘be lethargic’ SGI) but now deleted 
in GEL ; L lassus ‘tired’;) Gm lat(r ); B letas. Not S, Gk, L, C, SI. 
(PIE doubtful.) 

249. smooth : a) Gm gla-t/d ■ B glud(u)s ; SI gladuku. Not 
S, Gk, L, C. 

250. b) Gk leios ; L levis ; C llyf-n ; Gm s-lettr . Not S, B, SI. 

251. sparse, thin : a) S vi-rala ; L rarus ; B ret(a)s ; 
SI reduku. Not Gk, C, Gm. 

252. b) S manak ; Gk mano -; C men-b ; B menkas; Toch 
A mank ‘lack(ing)’. Not L, Gm, SI. 

253. sweet : S svadu ; Gk hedus ( Fadus)\ L suavis ; Gm 
swete. Not C, B, SI. 

254. thin : S tanu ; Gk tanu-thrix ‘thin-hair’; L tanuis; 
Gm dunni. Not C, B, SI. 

255- true : a) L verus ; C fir ; Gm war. Not S, Gk, B, SI. 

256. b) S satya ; Gk eteos ; Gm sod. All originally 
‘existing’. Not L, C, B, SI. 

257. wicked : S pisuna ; Gk pikros ‘caustic’; Gm fah 
hostile; B piktas ‘angry’. Not L, C, SI. 

258. wide : S prthu ; Gk platus ; C let ban (?); B plat(u)s ; 
Ht palhis. Not L, Gm, SI. 


72 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

259- young : S yuvan ; L iuvenis ; C oac etc; Gin juggs 
etc; B jaunas ; SI junu ; Arm yavanak. Not Gk. 

VIII) Actions, processes and states (verbs). xMany verbs 
(activities and states of being) have common stems: be (S asti, 
Gk esti, etc); live (S Ajiv , Gk biod/zb, L vivere etc); stand 
(S 'Isthd, Gk histe-, L sto etc); sit (S sad/sid- , Gk hez, Gm sit 
etc but not C); spread/strew (S 'tstr ; L ster , B stir etc); turn 
(S \vrt : L vert but not Gk); bear/carry (S V bhr ; Gk pher- but 
not B); lick (S 'llih, Gk leicb- etc); eat (S > lad Gk ed-, Gm 
eta etc); drink (S 'Ipa, Gk pi, L bi etc); urinate (S 'Jmih, Gk 
omich-, SI miz- etc); break wind (S pard-, Gk perd- etc). 
But many more show great diversity: bow, create, dig, fight, 
gather, halt, hang, etc, etc. 

260. anoint : a) S 'lanj > arijana-, L unguere, unguen, 
(C imb & OHG ancho ‘butter’). Not Gk, C, Gm, B, SI. 

261. b) S A lip > lipti ; Gk aleipho, lipos ‘fat’; B lepti. 
Not L, C, Gm, SI. 

262. awaken : a) S jdgar-\ Gk egeir--, Arm ngre-he. 
Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

263. b) S budh-/bodh-; (cf Gk peuth-, punth- ‘learn’; Gm 
biudan ‘bid’); B budeti ; SI buditi ; cf Toch AB pot/paut- 
‘revere’. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

264. be excited/angry : S kupyati ; (L cupio ‘desire 
vehemently’;) SI kypeti ‘be agitated, seethe’; Ht kap-pila ‘be 
angry’. Not Gk, L, C, Gm, B. 

265. be faint, stunned : S tam-/tamya-\ (L temu-lentus 
‘befuddled, drunk’; C tam ‘death’;) Gm dam-lich stupefied’, 
dum-eln ‘deaden’; SI tom-iti ‘drudge, oppress’. Not Gk, L, C, 
B. 

266. be silent : S tusnim bhu--, C toaim ; B tusnan ; 
SI Tosna ‘Silent’ name of river. Not Gk, L, Gm. 

267. become : S bhu>bhavati ; Gk phud , phuomai 
‘grow, appear’; all others have cogns of asti/esti etc ‘to be’ 
but not of bhu/phu- except various forms which have 
become integral parts of ‘to be’ (e.g. L fui ‘have been’ perf; C 
buith or B buti ‘to be’; etc): so not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION LN SANSKRIT / 73 

268. beget : S jan-\ Gk gen- gignomai ; L genere ; C - 
genathar/geni. Not Gm, B, SI. 

269- blow : S vd; Gk ae-mi ; Gm waian/wajan ; SI vejati. 
Not L, C, B. 

270. blow, blast : Stidham ; (Gk theme-ros ‘serious’; 
C dem ‘black’; Gm daam ‘odour’;) B dumti ; SI doti. Not Gk, 
L, C, Gm. 

271. boil : a) S lyas ; Gk zed ; Gm giest, jastr. Not L, 
C, B, SI. 

272. b) S bhur-van ‘agitated, restless’; L fervere ; 
C birbaim ; Gm brinwan ; SI bruja ‘streaming’. Not Gk, B. 

273. break/shatter : a) S 'Iruj ; (Gk leuga- ‘ill-luck-’; 
L lugeo ‘mourn’; C luch-t ‘piece’;) Gm td-lucan ; B lauzti. 
No Gk, L, C, SI. 

274. b) S V rup , V lu(m)p ; L rumpo ; Gm reofan ; B rup- 
‘be anxious’; lamp- ‘break, rob’; SI lup- ‘flog, peel off’. Not 
Gk, C. 

275. c) S bhanj , bhanakti ; C bongid ; B bengti 
‘discontinue, end’; Arm bekanem. Not Gk, L, Gm, SI. 

276. breathe : S an ; C anal- ; Gm -anan ; Toch an-m. 
Not Gk (but an-emos ‘wind’), L (but an-ima ‘air, breath’), 
B, SI (but von-ja ‘smell’). 

277. burn : a) S idah ; B deg-u ; SI zega ; Alb djek ; Toch 
A/B tsak. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

278. b) S du-noti ; Gk daio ; C doim ; Gm t yna , zuscen 
‘injure, pain, torment’; Alb dhune) ‘pain’. Not L, B, SI. 

279. burst : S V8r; Gk dero ‘flay’; Gm ga-taurnaw, B 
dirti ; Toch tsar- ‘separate’. Not L, C, SI. 

280. buy : S knnati ; Gk priasthai ; C cith ‘purchase’ n; 
(B kricus ‘money’;) SI krunuti-, Toch B krayor as C. Not L, 
Gm, B. 

281. care for, rescue : S nas-ate ‘approach, join with’; 
Gk neomai ‘mind/restore (home)’; Gm ge- nasjans 'rescue\ 
genisan ‘recover’; Alb knellen (=*k-nes-l-) ‘restore oneself’. 
Not L, C, B, SI. 


74 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

282. cook : S pacati ; etc (with Alb and Toch AB); all exc 
Gm. 

283. cough : S a Ikas ; C cas-/pas-: Gm bosta etc; B koseti ; 
SI kasiljati. Not Gk, L. 

284. crackle, thunder : S Zspburj ■ Gk spharag-; Gm 
spraka (ON), but (OE) sprecan ‘speak’; B sprageti. Not L, C, 
SI. 

285- crush/grind : S pinasti ; Gk ptisso ; L pinsere ; B 
paisyti ; SI puchati. Not C, Gm. 

286. cry(out), weep : S / rud-\ L rudere ; Gm riozan ; B 
raud- ; SI rydatu. Not Gk, C. 

287. cure : S /is ‘invigorate’; Gk iaino-, ( Gm eisa ‘dash 
forward’). Not L, C, Gm, B, SI. 

288. cut : S krntati ; Gm scrindan ‘burst, split’; SI cresti-, 
Ht kartai. Not Gk, L, C, B. 

289- cut free : S /lu ‘cut free/off’; Gk lud ‘loosen’; L lud 
expiate, pay off’; Gm lun-, liusan . Not C, B, SI 

290. despise : S /nind ; (Gk oneidos ‘disgrace’;) Gm ga- 
naitjan ‘slander’; B niedeti ‘detest’; Arm a-nicanem ‘curse’. 
Not Gk, L, C, SI. 

291. die/perish : a) S mr-/ mar-/ mri -; (Gk only e-mor- 
ten ‘died’ Hes; marai-no ‘wither’; a-m-b-rotos ‘immortal’;) 
L morior ; B mirti\ SI mreti. Not Gk, C, Gm 

292. b) S nas -; L necare ; Toch A/B nak/nek-. Not Gk, C, 
Gm, B, SI. 

293. direct, govern : S Zrfnjj ; L regere ; C rigim. Not 
Gk, Gm, B, SI. 

294. dress : S vas(-te) ; Gk hennumi/hes-sai ; L vestire -, 
Gm wasjan ; Ht ues -; Toch B was-tsi. Not C, B, SI. 

295. dwell, stay : S vas(-ati) ; Gk aesa (aor); C fo(a)id ; 
Gm wisan/sesan ; Arm gom ‘exist’; Ht bids-. Not L, B, SI. 
(I ignore the stem man/men- since it is common to S, Gk, 
L and some others.) 

296. enjoy : S /bbuj ; L fungor and ‘be busy with’; Alb 
bunge. Not Gk, C, Gm, B, SI. 

297. extend/stretch : S /tan ; Gk tan-, tein -; L ten-do\ 
etc; all exc C, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 75 

298. faith, trust: S sraddha (also vb ‘showing faith, 
entrusting’); (Gk krad-, kard-ia ‘heart, seat of faith’;) L credo 
‘believe’ (*cret-do ‘give trust’); C cretim ‘believe, trust’. Not 
Gk, Gm, B, SI. 

299. fill : S Vpr> piparti ; Gk pimplemi ; L plere (in cpds 
im/com-)-, C linaim (; Gm fulls, B pilnas , SI plunu - all ‘full’ 
adj). Not Gm, B, SI. 

300. find : S 'lvi(n)d ; Gk inda-llomai ‘turn up’; C ro- 
finnadan ‘find out’; Arm egit aor ‘found’. Not L, Gm, B, 
SI. (I suspect Gm finna /ON), findan (OE) etc, are related 
despite the IEL rules that forbid the S v/Gmf 
correspondence.) 

301. flow : S sru-Zsrava- ; Gk rheo ; C sruaimm ; B sraveti 
‘ooze out’. Not L, Gm, SI. 

302. (The C and Gm branches have the cognate stems for 
‘running’: C rethim ; Gm nnnan/renna which are linked with 
S Vr> moti, Gk omumi, etc, ‘stir’. The Gm stems flowan etc 
‘flow’ are linked with S plu-, Gk pled 'float’.) 

303. fly : S pat- ; Gk pet-, C hed-/eth- ; Ht pet-. 
Not L {petere ‘seek’), Gm, B. 

304. follow : S sac-ate ; Gk hepomai ; L sequor ; C 
sechitir, B sekt-. Not Gm, SI. 

305. forget : S mrs- ■ B mirst- ; Arm moromam ; Toch 
A/B mars-. Not Gk, L, C, Gm (perhaps marzjan ‘vex’?). 

306. free/release : S muc-/munca- ; Gk apo-musso 
‘blow/free nose’; L e-mungere ‘blow/free nose’; B maukti 
‘strip off/wipe’ and smukti ‘slide off’. Not C, Gm, SI (but 
smyk-ati ‘crawl’). 

307. go : a) S Vi; Gk eisi ; L it; etc, all exc Gm. 

308. b) S a I yd ; (L ianus ‘god of passages’; C dth 
‘crossing’;) B joti ; SI jachati ; Ht iia= ; Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

309. go ahead/after : Gk hege-omai ; (L sagire ‘perceive, 
discern’;) C saigim ‘seek’; Gm sokjan, secan. Not S, L, B, SI. 

310. grab, take : S grabh -; Gm gr(e)ipan, garva ; B grabt- 
SI grabiti ; Ht kaip- ‘take away’. Not Gk, L, C. 

311. groan, roar, thunder : S \stan (and ‘thunder’); Gk 
steno ; L tonare ‘thunder’; Gm stenan ; etc, all exc C. 



76 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

312. grow : a) S V uks ; Gk auxo ; L augere ; Gm wahsjan ; 
B augt ; Toch A oksis. Not C, SI. 

313. b) S V rub (>rodhati ); (Gk e-leuthe-ro ; L liber ‘free’; 
C luss ‘plant’;) Gm liudan ; SI ljuduje . Not Gk, L, C, B. 

314. grow, increase : S vrdh-, (Gk ortho- ‘up-right’;) 
B radit ‘beget’; SI roditi ‘help grow’; Alb rit ‘grow’. Not Gk, 
L, C, Gm. 

315. grow old : S Zjr > jar-, Gk ger-6/asko ■ (Gm karl ‘old 
man’;) SI zureti ‘ripen’) ; Arm cer ‘old man’. Not L, C, Gm, B. 

316. have sex : S Zyahh ■ Gk oipho ; SI jebati. Not L, C, 
Gm, B. 

317. harm, injure : Gk skeda-nnumi ‘grind, scatter’, 
a-skethes ‘un-hurt’; C scathaim ‘injure, mutilate’; Gm skada , 
sccidon (; B & SI borrow Gm). Not S, L, B, SI. (PIE doubtful.) 

318. hear : S sru/sr- ■ Gk kluo ; L clueo ; C clui-Zclyw- ■ 
Gm hlyda, hlystan ‘listen’; (B slu-dinat , SI slu-ti , Toch 
AB k.law- last three ‘inform, make known’). Not B, SI. 

319. heat : S tapati ■ L tepeo ■ C te ‘heat’; SI top-lu ‘hot’. 
Not Gk, Gm, B. 

320. increase, thrive : S V sphdy ; (L pro-sperus 
‘favourable’;) Gm spuon ; B sped ; SI sped . Not Gk, L, C. 

321. join, yoke : X 'lyuj > yunakti ; Gk zeug-nu-mi ; 
L iungo ; B jungiu . Not C, Gm, SI. (n : S yuga ■ Gk zugon ; 
L iugum ; Gm juk ; SI igo. Not C, B.) 

322. jump, mount : S skand ; (Gk skandalon ‘trap’;) L 
scando ; C se-scaind. No Gk, Gm, B, SI. 

323. know : S vid-/ved- ; Gk oida (perf); C fet-ar ; 
Gm witan ; SI vedeti. Not L (but videre ‘see’), B. (The stems 
S jha- , Gk grid-, etc, is common to all.) 

324. lead : C fedim ; B vedu ; SI veda , vod-. Not S, Gk, 
L, Gm. 

325. lessen : S minad ; Gk minu-tho ; L minu-ere. 
Not C, Gm, B, SI. 

326. lie down : Gk lecho-mai ; C leigim ; Gm ligan ; SI 
lezati ■ Ht laki. Not S, L, B. 

327. lift : x 'Itul ; Gk tlenai ; L tollo ; Gm pulan. Not C B 
SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 77 

328. march, walk : S V stigh ; Gk steicho ; C tiagn ■ etc, all 
exc L. 

329. milk : Gk amelgo ; L mulgere ; etc; all exc S, where 
mrj- ‘rub/stroke’ (cf Gk o-morg-numi ‘rub/wipe off’!). 

330. overpower : S V/z > jay-/jina- ; Gk biao ibineoT)-, 
Gm kveita (ON). Not L, C, B, SI. 

331- plait/twine : Gk plek-o ; L flectere ; Gm flechtan ; 
SI plesti. Not C, B and S (which has prasna ‘turban’). 

332. praise : S gr-nati (and ‘call, invoke’); C bar-dus 
(Gaul) ‘bard, praiser’; (Gm queran ‘sigh, moan’;) B giriu ; 
SI grand ‘verse, form[-ula] (of praise?)’; Alb gri-sh ‘call, 
summon’. Not Gk, L, Gm. 

333- pull: Gk helko ; B vilkt ; SI vlesti ; Arm helk. Not S, L, 
C, Gm. 

334. push : S Atud ; (L tundo ‘strike, pound’;) Gm 
stautan ; Alb stum . Not Gk, L, C, B, SI. 

335. put : S V dha - ; Gk ti-the-mi ; C dodi/dede ; B deti ; 
SI deti ; Ht dai ; Toch A/B tas/tes. Not L (but cottdere ‘found’), 
Gm (but tuon ‘do’). 

336. question : S prach/prch -; L posc-/prec-\ etc; all exc 
Gk. 

337. rage : S si ms ; Gk alu(cc)o ‘be beside oneself’; Gm 
ritsen ; B msti. Not L, C, SI. 

338. reach : S ap-noti ; L ap-iscor , ad-ip-iscor ; Arm 
unim ‘possess’; Ht ep-mi ‘take’; (Toch A oppassi ‘fit,able’.) 
Not Gk, C, Gm, B, SI.. 

339. remember : S smr/smar- ; (Gk mer-/imna/mera 
‘care for’;) L memor, Gm geminor . Not Gk, C, B, SI. 

340. rest : S Vram ; (Gk e-rem-a ‘calmly’) -C fo/fui- 
rCOmim; (Gm rimis n;) B rimti ; Not Gk, L, Gm, SI. 

341. rip, tear : S si dr ; Gk dero ‘flay, tear away’; Gm 
teran-, B dir- ; SI dirati. Not L, C. 

342. ride : C riadaim ; Gm rida(n) ; B raid. Not S, Gk, L, 
SI. (I doubt this is PIE.) 

343. rise : S ut-thd ; Gk an-istha-; Gm us-stand-; SI vu- 
stan-. Not L, C, B. 


78 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

344. roast : S bhrjj- ; Gk phrugo ; L frigo. Not C, Gm, B, 
SI. 

345. satisfy : S bhp ; Gk terp-6 ; B tarpti ‘thrive’. Not L, C, 
Gm, SI. 

346. say/speak/talk : a) S 'Ivac--, Gk eipon ‘spoke/said’; 
(L vox ‘voice’, voc-are ‘call’; C foccul ‘word’;) Gm gi-wah- 
annen ; O Pr en-wack-emai. Not L, C, SI. 

347. b) S V vad-\ Gk aud-ao ; B vadinti ; SI vaditi ; (cf Ht 
uttar ‘word, speech’;) Toch AB watok ‘bid, tell’. Not L, C, 
Gm. 

348. c) S 'Ibba-s (also bha-n/ri) ; Gk pha-/pbe-mV ; L fan ; 
Gm boian; SI ba-jati. Not C, B. 

349. see : a) S drs/dars- ; Gk derk/drak- ; Umb terk-antur 
‘should foresee’; C e-drych ‘look’, adcin-darc ‘have seen’ 
perf adcin -); Gm ga-tarhjan. Not B, SI. 

350. b) S lok/loc- ; Gk leusso ; C llyggad ; B laukti. Not L, 
Gm, SI. (There are other stems for ‘seeing’; vid- in L videre is 
primarily for ‘knowing’ and even L has no other cognates. 
Then S *[s]pas- ; Gk *spek-t- for skep-t- ‘visualize, think’; L 
spec- ‘see’; Gm spebon.') 

351. sew : S bsiv ; L suo ; Gm siujan ; B siuti ; SI siti. 
Not Gk, C. 

352. shine : S bsvit ; B sviesti ; SI sveteti. Not Gk, L, C, Gm. 

353. show : S dis-ati ; Gk deik-numi ; L in-dico ; Gm 
zeigon ; Ht tekku-. Not C, B, SI. 

354. slay/strike : S 'Iban ; Gk thein-o ; etc; all exc Gm. 

355. sleep : a) S bsvap- ; C suan--, Gm swefan ; SI supati : 
Ht sup-. Not Gk (but bupnos m ‘sleep’), L (but sopor ‘sleep’, 
sopire ‘put to sleep’), B (but sapnas ‘a dream’). 

356. b) S dra-\ Gk e-dra-tbon ‘slept’; L dor-mire ; 
SI dremati ; (Arm tartam ‘drowsy’;). Not C, Gm, B. 

357. slide : Gk olistband ; C llitbro ; Gm slidan , B slysti. 
Not S, L, SI. 

358. smile : S smiVsmay- ; Gk mei-deao ; B smiet ; SI 
smijati ; Toch smi. Not L, C, Gm (but ME and Norweg. smi-l- 
‘smile’). 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 79 

359- sneeze : S -4k.su ■ Gm hnjosa ; B ciande ; SI si/ky- 
chat. Not Gk, L, C. 

360. soar : S di-yati ; Gk di-neo ; (C dian ‘fast’;) B diet 
‘dance’. Not L, C, Gm, SI. 

361. strike : S stuj ; C tuagaim ; Gm stozan . Not Gk, L, B, 

SI. 

362. suck: a) S dhayati ; Gk the-sato (aor); Gm dadjan ; B 
deju ; SI dojo ; Arm diem . Not L, C. 

363. b) L sugo ; C sugam ; etc, all exc S, Gk. 

364. swim : Gk ne/na/-cho ; L nare; C sna(i)m. Not Gm, 

B, SI and S, which does have snd-ti ‘bathe, wash’. 

365. taste : S "'Ijus ‘enjoy’; Gk gev-omai ; L gust-; Gm 
kausjan. Not C, B, SI. 

366. think, reflect : S >lman ; C do-moin-iur ; Gm 
munan ; B manyti ; SI mined. Not Gk (only ‘remember’ 
mnao- and ‘be enraptured, enraged’ maino -), L (only 
‘remember’ me-min-esse). 

367. tie up : a) S nah-yati ; L nec-tere ( nodus ‘knot, 
bond’); C nascim . Not Gk, Gm, B, SI. 

368. b) S sd/si-; B siety ; Ht hishi-. Not Gk, L, C, Gm, SI. 

369. vomit: S vam-iti ; Gk emeo ; L vomere ; B vend. Not 

C, Gm (but ON vama ‘sickness’), SI. 

370. wash : S V nij > nenek-d ; Gk niz-o ; C nig-id ; Gm 
nih-. Not L, B, SI. 

371. weaken : S vra(n)d- (only in RV); Gk rhada-naomai 
‘be weak, unsteady’; SI vredu etc ‘harm’. Not L, C, Gm, B. 

372. weave : S V u(m)bh , ve ; Gk huph -aino ; C figim ; 
Gm wefan, weban , B aust ; Alb ven. Not L, SI. 

IX) Indeclinables. Here are 20 adverbs and prepositions. 
Some few stems are common to all branches, like that for 
‘round, about’ (S pari, Gk peri(x) , etc) or the base for ‘how, 
when, who?’ (S ka-, B ka- etc). Some claim that L com/con/ 
cum- , (and C com- etc) ‘together with’ is linked with Gk kata 
‘downward, against, according to, during, almost’: it is 
obvious there is neither phonetic nor semantic proximity but 


80 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

IEL invented PIE *kmt and *kom as.sources. Just as 
unacceptable is the proposed link between Gk dia ‘right 
through, by means of and L dis and Gm twis/z(w)is ‘in, 
between, two’, where again there is neither phonetic nor 
semantic affinity. I ignore all such cases. 

373- above, over : S up an ; Gk huper ; L super ; etc, all 
exc B, SI. 

374. against, toward : S prati; Gk proti, pros ; B pret ; SI 
protivu. Not L, C, Gm. 

375. also, upon : S api; Gk epi; (L ob ‘against’;) C oi- 
intensifier in cpds; Gm if- as with C; B api-, Arm ev ‘and’. Not 
L, SI. 

376. and, further : S ati ; Gk eti ; Le/;C eti ‘also’; Gm z'jb 
‘but’; OPr et. Not SI. 

377. before, near, opposite : S anti ; Gk anti ; L ante ; Arm 
and ; Ht hand . Not C, Gm, B, SI. 

378. down, off: S ava; Gk av ; etc, all (including Ht u/wa) 
exc Gm. 

379- farther, beyond : S para -; Gk pera(n) ; Osc perum; 
Arm heri ; Ht para. Not C, Gm, B, SI. 

380. forth, before : S pra- ; Gk pro ; etc, all exc Gm fra- = 
intensifier as in MdG ver- . Not Gm. 

381. here : S iha ; Gk itha-; L ibt ■ C id. Not Gm, B, SI. 

382. in, between : S ant ah ; Gk entos ; L inter ; C eter ; 
Gm unter. Not B, SI. 

383. near to, from low : S upa ; Gk hupo ; L sub; C fo ; 
Gm uf l onto’. Not B, SI. 

384. off, away : S apa ; Gk apo- ; L ab-; Gm af-; Ht apa 
‘again, behind’. Not C, B, SI. 

385- thus : S iti ; L ita ; C yt; B it. Not Gk, Gm, SI. 

386. to, toward : S abhi ; Gk amphi-; etc, all exc B. 

387. together, with : S sa-, sam; Gk ha-, sun; B sam, san; 
SI sq/su- . Not L, C, Gm. 

388. tomorrow : S usar, usra ; Gk avrionf Gm eastre 
‘goddess of spring’, OE;) B ausra. Not L, C, Gm, SI. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 81 

389. up(ward): S ut-; Gk hu-; L us-; (Gm ut ‘outside’;) 
B uz ; SI vuz . Not C, Gm. 

390. where, how : S ku- (tra , etc); Gk o-pui (Cretan) etc; 
Osc puf ; B kur ; Alb ku. Not C, Gm, SI. 

391- without : a) S rte ; (Gk eremo ‘solitary’ adj;); L raro 
‘rarely’; (B irti ‘to separate’;) Toch AB arts ‘any’(?). Not Gk, 
C, Gm, B, SI. 

392. b) S nib-; Gk a-nis ; SI nis-tu . Not L, C, Gm, B. 

393. yesterday : S hyas ■ Gk ser -, (ejcbtbes ; L her-i/e ; 
C in-de ; Gm ges- , i -gar; Alb dje. Not B, SI. 

12. The Results. The list contains numbered stems 
examined in detail. But there are a few more in the 
introductory paragraph to each section which show absences 
in one or other branch. So the total with significant differences 
is 404. Obviously, stems common to all seven branches have 
not been counted; so also stems that have no clear common 
cognate (§ 8-10) or do not yield a clear central meaning. 

Of these 404, S lacks 53; Gk 149; L 207; C 210; Gm 145; 
B 185; SI 215. Thus, in a descending sequence: S -53; Gm - 
145; Gk -149; B -185; L-207; C -210; SI - 215. 

Obviously, Gm and Gk are very close but quite far from S. 
The difference is enormous. B is on its own but nowhere near 
Gk and Gm. These two large gaps between S and Gm/Gk and 
Gm/Gk and B would not be bridged even if 50 or 100 more 
words were to be examined. There is only a good possibility 
that Gk might overtake Gm by a short head (and L might creep 
close to B or even ahead of it). 

Here clearly Mallory’s notion that early large literatures 
(Vedic, Greek, Latin) preserve more is not borne out by these 
results (§ 4). Other factors are more important, the main one 
being a secure oral tradition which can be established only in 
conditions of settlement not movement. To forestall many 
empty or idle arguments I take the Hittites as a prime 
example. The language of the Hittites has very few IE 


82 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

retentions and their culture scant IE elements. Yet this people 
produced many texts very early cl600. Why the discrepancy 
then?... To this question Mallory replied “Obviously 
Anatolian [=Hittite varieties] documents are so riddled with 
Sumerian... [etc] ... that it is reasonably obvious that it is not 
comparable” I wouldn’t disagree in the least. But there is no 
point in repeating this very condition as an answer to the 
question which asks for an explanation of the problematic 
condition. Why is Hittite so riddled with extraneous, non-IE 
elements?... Obviously this is an anomaly: it is not at all 
accommodated by the prediction. Why is Hittite in such a 
sorry state regarding IE retentions?... (An answer is given in 
§ 15.) 

13. Objections. It may be objected that someone else 
with a different choice of items would produce different 
results, with S after Gk. I do admit that it is possible that I 
omitted some items: the list is not complete by any means. 
Even if I had rigged the choice of items in favour of S and 50- 
60 stems were replaced, the gap between S and Gm/Gk 
would remain quite large. From the general feel I obtained 
about the languages through constant consultation of the 
publications mentioned in § 7, end, I can state with certitude 
that a significantly different choice could not be made 
without a gross violation of the simple principles set out in 
§§ 6-10. After all, I could have included Av(estan) and taken 
Av with a third branch (Gk, L, C, Gm, B or SI): e.g. S apara , 
Av apard , Gm afar ‘farther, later, next’ ; S navya , Av 
navaya, Gk naio - ‘navigable, of boat’; S syama , Av sama, 
Lith semas ‘darkcoloured’; etc, etc. This would enlarge the 
gap in favour of S enormously. I could also have taken only S 
and another branch; even without the pairing of S and Av, S 
would gain an incalculable advantage. Consider: - S anu 
‘fine, minute’, Gk alinos ‘barely visible’; also S dramati/ 
drati, Gk dramein ‘run’ or S dhavati/dhavate, Gk theo ‘run, 
flow’ (cogns in Gm mean ‘stop, trample’). There are many 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 83 

more: S Aarh , Gk alphein ‘be worth, deserve’; S jaran, Gk 
geron ‘old’ ; S damsa ‘wondrous power , act’, Gk den-ea (pi) 
‘strategems’; etc, etc. See also: S maha-yati, L mac-tare 
‘glorify’; S aksa, L a lea ‘die (dice)’; S vasti, L ve(n/s)sica 
‘bladder’; etc. Or take S sak-ti and C cecht ‘force, power’; etc. 
Then, S aru ‘wound’, Gm orr ‘scar’; S druh-yati ‘harms’ and 
drogha “false, harmful’, Gm triogan, ‘deceive’ and draugr 
‘ghost’; S plyati ‘revile’, Gm fieri, fijan ‘blame’; etc, etc. 
Moreover: S asru, Lith asara ‘tear’, S vara, Lith vala 
‘horsehair’; etc. Also, S pitu, SI pis-ta ‘nourishment’; S A Mis 
‘torment’, SI klestitu ‘jam, press’; etc. And S dura, Ht turn 
‘far’; etc. And of course one could take S and Av only: 
atharvan/aerava ‘priest’, ise/ise, ‘is master’, godhuma/ 
gantumo ‘wheat’, dasyu/dahyu- ‘demon’ etc, etc. Had I done 
this, the gap between S and the second, whether Gk or Gm, 
would increase astronomically. And, in any case, I have 
included stems found only in 3 European branches that we 
know inter-borrowed - like L, C and Gm or Gm, B, SI: such 
stems I suspect are not PIE. 

Nothing could be more certain and invariable in all 
conditions than the parts of the human body. Of the 40 stems 
examined, S lacks 4, Gm 12, Gk 13, L 19, B 20, C 23 and SI 
29- Thus, apart from the positions of L and B which are very 
close with L slightly ahead, the percentages seem to be very 
similar to the overall picture with the 404 stems. There is a 
large gap between S and Gm/Gk and between Gm/Gk and L/B. 
(Yes, 2 or 3 cognations - no more - might be disputed but this 
would not alter much the general situation.) 

14. Another objection may be (and has been stated by 
Mallory) that S, Gk and L have very large literatures from early 
on; to those should be added Hittite. This is true, of course. It is 
true also that social or religious changes (subjugation or the 
advent of Christianity) affected seriously the language and 
culture of many European communities - as Zarathustra’s 
religious reform affected ancient Iran. These may account for 


84 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

some of the decays and losses in some branches but they are 
not alone responsible for all the observable disparities in 
preservation. 4 The Greeks stayed under the not very 
enlightened rule of the Ottomans for 4 centuries but they did 
not lose their religion in the slightest and, although several 
words were borrowed from Turkish, changes in the language 
had began long before the Ottomans. Mallory wrote that S, 
Gk and L would, because of their early and large literatures, 
show more retentions than the other branches. 5 He should 
have included Ht also which appears much earlier than Gk, L 
and S; but because Ht disproves most flagrantly this 
notion, it is never mentioned, or it is mentioned only to be 
covered over with irrelevancies. However, Mallory’s 
prediction is most obviously wrong, as is shown by the 
figures in §12 where Gm, despite its late literacy, is slightly 
ahead of Gk and leaves L far behind, both so rich 
linguistically. So let us look at this rationally. 

All IE branches had an oral tradition before the adoption of 
writing. The Indus-Sarasvati culture had writing c3000 but we 
don’t know for certain whether it was Sanskritic or some other 
language. In India, writing in recognisable IE (or Middle 
Indoaryan) appears in 260-250 (or perhaps a little earlier), 
particularly in Ashoka’s Rock-Edicts. We also have ample 
evidence that the sacred texts (RV etc) were being transmitted 
orally in the 7th cent CE and even in the early 20th cent: 
generation after generation of brahmin families specialised in 
this task (Winternitz I, 29-32, 51-2). Caesar reported a similar 
practice among the Celts who “learnt by heart many verses” 
studying under a teacher “for twenty years” and, although 
they made use of Greek letters, in most other matters, the 
Druids did not “think it fit to put these utterances into writing” 
(De Bello Galileo VI, 14). The Greeks too had an oral tradition 
and some esoteric cults maintained it well into Roman times 


4 For details and references see Kazanas 2003: 209-210; also especially 
2005. 

5 This in the private communication to me, Nov 2004: see §4, above. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 85 

(Kingsley 1995: 332ff; Murray 1993:100). Indeed all IE 
branches maintained an oral tradition, otherwise we would not 
know about their early period, before the advent of literacy. 

Hittite texts written on tablets survive from cl600 BC. 
Mycenaean texts come from cl500 BC, also on tablets; Greek 
epigraphic material appears from c700 BC on stone and 
pottery and various (fragmented) texts on golden plates and 
even papyrus from c400 BC - while manuscripts become 
plentiful the first cent CE. Roman written material is just as 
plentiful from the same period and epigraphic material (Oscan, 
Umbrian have only such) goes back to c 500 BC (O Latin). 
Literacy in the other branches, Gothic , then other Germanic , 
Slavonic and finally Baltic came some centuries later (though 
some Gm runes appear from c 100 BC). In India writing is 
attested seriously only c 260-250 BC in Asoka’s Rock- 
Edicts which are in prakrta. No doubt writing was used 
perhaps extensively in the state administration , literary 
compositions and commerce. But the sacred Vedas (from 
which more that 90 % of the Indie material has been 
drawn) were transmitted orally even in the 7th cent CE. 
Although there was writing (on palm leaves and birch 
bark), very few manuscripts survive from before the 14th 
cent CE. So in this respect, even if the Vedic sacred texts 
had been committed to writing (Sayana wrote his 
commentary on the RV in the 14th cent CE), the Indians are 
no better off than any other branch (except the Balts) and 
are certainly worse off than the Hittittes, the Mycenaeans 
and Greeks and the Romans with their early literacy. 

15. Yet, despite its early and vast literature, Gk lost the 
IE stems for flesh (15), mouth (26), nose (31) and tongue 
(39), desire/love (45), man (70b and 72d), twin (81) and 
widow (83), to mention few stems that are retained by 
non-literate Gm and in some cases even ‘poor relatives’ 
like B, C and Si! How does a language lose its own words 
for mouth, nose and tongue? Surely no religious or social 
change can account for this. Only a weak oral tradition and a 
long trip away from the homeland would be responsible 




86 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

here. Then the Greeks changed the meaning of their own IE 
stem for mind (51) to ‘force’, for brother (56) to ‘member of a 
brotherhood’, for sister (77) to ‘daughter’, etc. Again, these 
stems are preserved in branches that acquired literacy much 
later (eg C, Gm, B and SI - except ‘mind’ in the last two). 
Then, despite its early and large literature (consider too the 
expanse of the Roman Empire from Persia to Britain), L lost 
the IE stems for arm (1,2), eyebrow (12), flesh (15), fear (48), 
vehemence (55), sage (75), son (78), woman (85), etc - 
stems retained in many cases by C, Gm, B and/or SI. 

As for Hittite, it lacks both stems for arm (1, 2) and for ear 
(9, 10),head (19, 20), knee (23), mouth (26), nose (31) etc. It 
also lacks the stems for the eight closest human 
relations: brother (56), daughter (62), father (64), 
husband (66), mother (73), sister (77), son (78) and wife 
(84) - almost all common to most branches. Please note 
certain facts. The Hittites are mentioned in near-Eastern 
documents by cl900. So they were in Anatolia somewhat 
earlier and established a kingdom which by cl600 expanded to 
form an Empire; this threatened peoples as distant and mighty as 
the Egyptians and lasted down to the 12th century (Dunstan 
1998). They were dominant conquerors. Thus they had not 
been coerced into abandoning their IE heritage and adopting 
new cultural features. They did this because they found the 
new culture(s) j ust as good, if not better than, the one they 
had brought. They had travelled far from their homeland and 
obviously were not numerous enough to impose their own 
culture on the indigenous people some of whom were already 
literate and highly cultured. I would add that they were an elite 
dominance group and had brought no families or not 
many (wives and children) with them; so they lost the 
terms for these intra-family relationships and adopted the 
corresponding words of the local languages. They preserved 
very few IE theonyms (Agnis, D Siu= Zeus/Dyaus, and perhaps 
Inara = Indra/Andarta) and adopted deities prevalent in the 
area. No other explanation will fit the data that we have. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 87 

Now all the words examined in this section denote well- 
known bodily parts that every human has everywhere (arm, 
flesh etc), common feelings (fear, love) and concrete figures 
(man, sister, son, woman). It is not likely that Gk, L and Ht had 
them but somehow failed to record them; for they have other, 
non-IE substitutes. The stems were lost before literacy. Now, 
undoubtedly, the presence of literacy and a large literature will 
support the continuity of language and culture, but the 
examples just quoted are not really affected by such factors. 
The non-literate languages preserved most of these stems and 
Gm preserved about as much as Gk and certainly more than L 
and incomparably more than Ht with its very early literacy. 
Therefore, apart from late literacy and small literature, there 
must be additional and stronger causes for lexical break¬ 
downs, decays and losses. We touched on this in § 4 and will 
return to it later. Now we need to look at an aspect other than 
the Preservation Principle. 

16. Just as important, is the principle of O(rganic) 
C(oherence) of a language, something which IEL usually 
overlooks. It is doubtful whether any language can exist 
without it. Take as example the non-inflected English 
language. When we see scattered through a text the words 
acted, activity, action, active, actionless and actively, or 
enacted and reactivates, we know that there is a root stem to 
which all of them are related: act, both noun and verb. 
Moreover we know that all these forms have been generated 
by the addition of various endings and prefixes to the root act. 
Thus, we also have created, creativity, recreates, pro- 
creation, creative, creationless, creatively, from the root stem 
creat-e, which is only verb. Being non-inflected and largely 
consisting of loans from other languages (both act and create 
come from Latin), English has no elasticity and great 
generative ability: thus it has inaction and procreation but not 
increation and proaction. Nonetheless, it has some generative 
power which gives it O C, however limited. Thus, in a limited 
frame, fear-less-ly, bope-less-ly and mind-less-ly are 


88 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

organically coherent with root-stems fear-, hope-, and mind- 
(which will generate further fear-fully, hope-ful-ly, mindful¬ 
ly and some other forms). The important point is that in the 
language we find clusters (or families) of words, nouns, 
adjectives, verbs and adverbs, which are all related together, 
having been generated from a root-stem. A word becomes 
thus an integral part of a lexical family and of the language. 

17. However, a language has also isolated words, not 
related to a root-stem. In English, we have several such words: 
aegis, again, can, canabis , den, denim, javelin, lady, etc. They 
too are integral parts of the language, but some are loans from 
other languages, others are changed forms of older words that 
belonged to a family and had other - now lost - connections. 
E.g. aegis comes from a Gk word that denoted the terror- 
striking shield of Zeus. Then, take lady: it is a decayed form of 
an OE word hlabfdige : this is a cpd hlaf+dig and means ‘one 
kneading ( =dig-) the loaf-of-bread’: that is what a ‘lady’ did in 
old times. In Sanskrit too we find many words that stand 
isolated, evidently unrelated to dhatus or even other isolated 
words: amha (mother), ulka (sky-fire), khara (rough), juta 
(hair), pika (cuckoo) etc, etc. 

To illustrate this further, let us take the common stem for 
light . S has a root Vrac ‘shine’ and derivatives ruci, rods 
‘light’; also ruk-ma ‘what shines, golden ornament’ and ruk- 
min ‘wearing gold ornament’, f rue ‘brightness’, ruca ‘bright’, 
roka ‘lustre’, roca ‘radiant’ etc. This root has also a full 
conjugation - pres rocate, perf mroca , causative rocayati ; 
etc. This is Organic Coherence. In contrast, Gk leuko and L lux 
has no apparent root; any cognates in their respective 
language are secondary derivatives produced from 
themselves. Here, Gk and L has no OC. Let us explore this 
further. 

18. The POC operates revealingly in the old languages. 
L serpens serpent’ (212) is a present participle of vb seipo 
‘I crawl’. L repo ‘creep’ also may belong to this family (an 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 89 

older *srepo?X but it merely duplicates the verb seipo which 
has no other derivatives. Gk has a slightly larger family with 
vb herpo (I creep), herpeton (serpent: 212), herpes ‘shingles’ 
and secondary v b heipuzo (I crawl), which could generate 
more forms. S has a much larger family with ( ^srp> ) srpra 
‘oily, smooth’, sarpa ‘serpent’ (212), sarpana ‘the act of 
crawling’, sarpin ‘creeping/gliding’, saipis ‘clarified butter 
(what glides)’, etc. The L cogns tell us that (some) verbal 
forms end in -o and (some) present participles in -ens. The 
Gk cogns have a regular m ending in -es, adjectival noun in 
-to- and secondary vb in -uzo (or -izo): thus nau-t-es ‘sailor’ 
cogn with naus ‘boat’; lu-to- ‘loosened’ < luo ; plo-izo 
‘navigate’ < ple-o ‘sail’. The S family shows more endings for 
primary derivatives and the regular change of the root- 
vowel, r — > guna ar: thus 'Isrp —> sarp and common endings 
-a m (\I chid ‘split’ > guna ched-a-, V tip ‘enjoy’ > guna taip-a), 
the n -ana, the adjectival -in , the n -is ( hav-is ‘oblation’ ^Ihu) 
and the less common -ra , added directly to roots ( chid-ra , 
t]p-rd). Note that except saipin (in Z?r) all other S words are in 
the RV. 

19. With ‘bearing’ (VIII, Introductory) we find that the 
pattern repeats. L has a very small family: vb fero ‘I bear/ 
carry’, adjs ferdx and fertilis ‘fertile, fruitful’ and fur ‘thief 
(one who carries off)’. Gk has a slightly bigger family: phero 
'I bear’, pharetra ‘quiver’, pheme ‘dowry’, pher-ma ‘what is 
borne’, phertron ‘what bears, bier’, phora f ‘the action of 
bearing’, phor-os ‘tribute’, secondary vb phoreo ‘usually 
bear, wear’ and phor ‘thief’. S has a very large family: 
(fbhr >) -bhr-t ‘one bearing’, bhrti ‘action of bearing’, 
bhr-tya ‘to be borne/supported, a retainer/servant’, bhr-tha 
‘offering, borne and given’; bhar-a ‘bearing, gain’, bhar-ana 
‘act thereof, bhar-tr one who supports, a husband, master’, 
bhar-man ‘support, care’; bhar-a ‘burden, load’, bhar-in adj 
‘carrying’, bhar-man ‘support, table’, bhar-ya to be 
supported’ and bhar-ya ‘wife’; also bhra-tr ‘brother (one 
who supports secondarily).’ In S, except for bhar-in (post-V) 
and bhaiya (in Br) all the others are in the RV. 


90 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

We learn a little more from the Latin group but it is 
difficult to see how the stem fer- becomes fur ‘thief’ (e > u). 
Just as difficult is the Gk pharf-etra) and phor ‘thief’ from 
‘ pher-\ otherwise the endings and the other vowel changes 
are regular for Gk: n -ma (der-ma ‘skin’, pneu-ma ‘breath, 
breeze’); n -tron ( aro-tron ‘plough’); f -a after r- is usually 
f -e{bor-a ‘prey’ but men- > mon-e 'a stay’); m -os {leg- > log¬ 
os ‘proportion, word’). These terminations are recognizable 
relatives of S ones: Gk n -ma, -tron , f -a/-e and m 
-os correspond to S -man, -tram (in bhar-i-tram), f -a/-l 
{bharya, bharinT) and m -as {bhar-as). In S we see again the 
endings -ana denoting ‘act of’ and -in adjectival, etc. 

S has also -tr {bhar-tr) which with the guna gradation 
gives an agent-noun. The n -tra commonly gives the 
instrument of the activity (state or condition) denoted by the 
dhatu: thus > las ‘throwing’ > as-tra ‘instrument of throwing, 
a missile’; Vr ‘moving’ > ar-i-tra ‘instrument promoting 
movement, an oar’; Vra ‘leading’ > netra ‘instrument leading, 
the eye’; etc. The agent nouns are even more numerous: as-tr 
{tar, voc) ‘thrower’; ar-i-tr {-tar) ‘mover, rower’; ne-tr{-tar) 
leader’; e-tr ‘goer’, kar-tr ‘maker’, je-tr ‘conqueror’, etc, etc. 
To this S ending corresponds Gk -ter, -tor and L -er, -or. thus 
S da-tr (-tar, voc) ‘giver’ {<)da) has Gk correspondences 
do-ter and do-tor and L dater. all ‘giver’; cf also S pi-tr{-tar), 
Gk pa-ter and L pa-ter, all ‘father’. 

Apart from bhar-tr ‘master, supporter’, S has also bhratr 
‘brother’. This (i.e. -r> -ra) is not a very common formation 
and IEL does not (fully) accept that this noun comes from 
V bhr ; again, Whitney has it in the derivatives under V bbr but 
with a question-mark (p 114). NIGT accepts it, however, and 
since IEL can offer no exp-lanation and, in any case, most of 
these S relation nouns {pi-tr ‘father’, svasr ‘sister’ etc) entail 
something anomalous in their formation. I think it is mere 
pedantic quibbling not to accept V bhr > bhratr. Cf )kr > kra- 
tu ‘power, will’, grbh, grh/grabh-/grah- ‘taking, grabbing’, 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 91 

'Idrs > dras-t’ ‘seer’ etc. (Perhaps the implication is that the 
brother is the secondary supporter of his sister(s), the primary 
one being the father or the husband). 

20. As a further example, we take ‘dressing’ (293). Here L 
has only the vb vestio ‘I dress’ and vest is ‘attire’. Gk has the vb 
ennumi and several words for garment eima/emma, es-thes 
(< es-thio ‘I dress’) and gestra (Hes). The S family of svas is 
again larger: vasa, vasana, vastii lex), vastr, vastra, vasas, 
vasin. etc. Here, apart from vasti (lex), vastr (post-V) and 
vdsin (in BrJ all others are in the RV. We recognise all the 
endings we have already met: -a, -ana, -tr, etc. We also see 
-as (=n; cf oj-as ‘strength’) and -ti (m/f; cf bhr-ti, above, also 
kr-ti ‘a creation’, etc). Note that Gth (=Gm) has only the vb 
wasjan and the noun ivasjos “cloth(es)’. Hittite and Tocharian 
are very poor - and we shall see many such cases further 
along. But here we have another interesting aspect to 
consider. It is unanimously agreed that the PIE root here (*wes 
?) is akin to S V vas, Gk stem es ( *es-nu -) and Ht uas. How then 
does it become L vest - and Gth wasj- ? How does it become 
Gk *es-nu-mi (> en-nu-mt)? I think there is only one 
explanation. L and Gth have not retained the pristine root- 
form but made a new verb-form from a PIE oblique form, 
derivative of the root, as in S vast-i, vast-r, vast-ra and 
vas-y-a. The Gk vb with -nu- is also derivative. 6 This we shall 
meet in other cases too. One clear, simple example is L cas- 
tr-are ‘clip, castrate’, which is cogn with Gk keaz-o ‘split, 
cleave’ and S sas- ‘cut, slaughter’, neither of which has -tr-\ 
but S has sastra (< sas +tra, i.e. instrument) ‘knife, sword’ and 
the L verb most probably comes from some such a stem. 


6 The Gk thematic -nu- may be inherited but no other branch has any 
trace of this and although S certainly has -nu/no- for class V dhatus, -n- for 
VII and -nd/m- for IX, the 'lvas does not belong to these classes. Gk does the 
same with deik-nu-mi ‘I show’ while, again, neither S nor any other branch 
has any trace of -nu in the cogn verb (Vc/zs > didesti/disati , L -dicare 
‘indicate, show’ etc). These forms in Gk are not therefore original but 
subsequent Gk developments by analogy or contamination. 



92 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

21. So far we see two interesting aspects. One, even 
basic verbal forms in some branches are not the pristine PIE 
stem, as clearly reflected in other branches, S being the most 
conspicuous. Two, while S displays fully OC having a large 
range of lexical items, in verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs, 
other branches show a lack of these and often tend to have 
either the verb with very few nominal forms or the reverse, or 
mere traces of the stem. This too shows that S is closer to PIE. 
Let us see more cases. 

22. We now turn to ‘mind’ (51). S has manas, a neuter 
like ojas ‘strength’, tamas ‘darkness, inertia’ etc, from Aman 
‘think, reflect’ (366). S has also the causative vb mdnayati 
and desiderative mimamsate ‘wish-to-think-on’ and nouns 
manana ‘act of thinking’, manu ‘man’ (70) and Manu, the 
sage, mantu, ‘counsel’, mantr ‘thinker’, mantra ‘verse, 
word-for-reflecting’, manman ‘concept’, manyu ‘ardour, 
mood’, mana ‘idea, opinion’, manin ‘having opinions’, etc. 
Consider now the poverty in the other branches, not 
excusable cases like B and C but Gk and L with their early 
and rich literatures. Consider also that except mantr and 
manin (in Br) all the S words are in the RV. 

B has the vb manyti (366) but no cognates for 'mind’ or 
other mental aspects. SI too has only the verb. C has the vb in 
do-moin-iur and n menme ‘mind, spirit’ but little else. 

L has mens with stem ment- (cf S man-tu, etc); also com- 
men-tor ‘contriver’ (cf S man-tr/tar). But the L cognate vb is 
me-min-isse ‘remember’ (cf S mi-mdn-sate) showing 
semantic change while ‘thinking’ is expressed by cogitare, 
putare, arbitrare. Thus in this case, the descent from PIE has 
resulted in a considerable breakdown and losses. 

Gk is in no better position. Its word for mind is nous 
(unconnected with any IE stems unless perhaps S Anu 
‘praise’), while its IE cogn menos means ‘force, might’(also 
mania ‘frenzy’, mantis ‘prophet, seer’ and some other 
secondary formations). It has several cognate vbs none of 
which means exactly ‘think’: main-o- ‘be enraged/ 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 93 

enraptured’, memona (perf with pres sense) ‘desire’, 
mi-mne-sko ‘remind’ and mna-o- ‘remember’ (cf S Vmnd 
'hand down [by memory]’), etc. 

Gm is, despite its later literacy, in a happier condition. 
ON has munr for ‘mind’; OE has myne ‘desire, mind’; Gth 
has muns ‘purpose’ and man ‘opinion’. Both OE and Gth 
have vb munan ‘think’, Here we witness slight divergencies 
but both noun and verb. 

23. How are these phenomena to be explained? ... 

We could suppose that S innovates and by analogy 
generates all its numerous forms in contrast to the very frugal 
C and Gm. But cognates of some of the S nouns are found also 
in other branches, Gk, L, etc: cf S manas /Gk menos, S mant-u/ 
Gk mant-is/ L ment-, S mana/ Gth man ‘opinion’, etc. Thus 
we cannot resort to this supposition about innovations. Rather 
we must take it that S plainly retains many descendants from 
PIE while the other branches suffered losses - as was evident 
with ‘creeping, dressing, bearing’ above. The full 
explanation for this will be given later, after we have 
examined more cognations. 

24. A different case is that of ‘son’ (78) - yet confirming 
our finds. It appears in S, Gm, B and SI roughly as sunu- (sa¬ 
in Gm, sja in SI). The S word is obviously the Vsm and the 
ending -nu > sunu - like grdh-nu ‘greedy’, bha-nu ‘shining, 
sun’, etc. No other cognate appears in the European 
branches. C has suth ‘birth, fruit’ (cf S sutu-) but no cognate 
for ‘son’! 

S Asu gives vb sute ‘engenders’ and is obviously linked 
with Asu>suvati ‘energises, vivifies’ as well as su-no-ti 
‘presses out’. No such cogn verbs appear in the other 
branches to link with and explain the stems for son. C has 
so(a)id and B sukti, both ‘turn, twist’; these are linked rather 
with sunoti or suvati and really indicate nothing except the 
fact that there is a breakdown. Gk has (like the Toch AB 
soy-') the decayed form hui- but, again, no other cognate. 
Considering how common and important the son has been in 


94 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

any society, irrespective of religion and other conditions, we 
must wonder that some IE branches do not have the cogn 
stem at all (e.g. L, C and Ht) and, in any case, none has any 
other cognates. In contrast, S has a very large family, as usual: 
apart from the verb and its compounds ( pra-su- etc), it has su, 
suti, sutika, sutu, sutri, sunu- all from the RV and AV. 
Consequently, we must conclude, here also S displays the PP 
and OCP, while the other branches suffered big and varied 
losses. 

With this should be connected S su-kara ‘hog, swine’. 
Like ‘son’ this word also stands isolated in the IE languages: 
Av hu-, Gk and L sus, Gm su(-gu), etc. Some scholars claim 
that sukara is onomatopoeic, meaning ‘the animal that makes 
the sound su This may be true but to me it sounds like one of 
the numerous explanations that scholars give in like 
situations in order not to face the obvious or to cover up the 
fact that they don’t know. Swines do not hiss (s-s-s or su-su- 
su) but grunt. So, in this case, the obvious is that S su is 
cognate with the stems in the other branches. They all come 
from some original Vsu (and only S has -kara ‘making, 
producing’). So the swine is the ‘begetter’ su -, since it gives 
birth to more litter than any other domesticated animal, like 
cattle, goat or sheep. Thus S again provides a solution to the 
linguistic problem of the apparently isolated stems for ‘son’ 
and ‘sow’. 

25- With the cognates of ‘mother’ (73) we meet difficulties 
at the very start thanks to IEL. The cogn stem is common to all, 
except that in B mote is ‘wife’: thus Gk meter, L mater. 
C mathir ; Gm modir/modor (ON,OE), Si mati. The NIGT 
recognizes that S ma-tr/-tar is a regular formation: yma 
(> mimati/mimite/mati) ‘measuring’ and the common 
-tr giving the agent ‘measurer’. Other similar formations attr 
{<^ad ‘eat’), etf (< 'll ‘go’), kartf (< '!kr ‘do’), goptf (<lgup 
‘guard’), dhatf{< 'Idha, ‘put’) etc, take, like matr the udatta 
accent on the ending (though some very few others take it on 
the stem - astr ‘thrower’, gamtr ‘goer’). The IEL doubts this 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 95 

formation ma+tr for no obvious sensible reason - but with 
much sophistry. To his credit Whitney did include matf 
(>mata ) under V md (p 119 with question-mark). I find 
nothing peculiar in the concept of mother being the 
‘measurer’, i.e. the one who holds and gives measures to the 
household. As far as I have seen and can still see that is 
exactly what a mother does with her home, children and 
husband - most of the time. I suppose the reason our modern 
scholars reject the Indie tradition is because the equivalent to 
the S verbal forms are not found in any of the IE branches 
except L metior ‘measure, survey’ (and Toch AB me/mai 
'measure’) and, in any case, there is no obvious cognation 
between the nouns for ‘mother’ and the verbs for 
‘measuring’. E.g. how is L metior related to S V md ? Where 
has the -t- come from (not present in Toch AB)? And how 
does it relate to L mater ? How does the equivalent Gk 
metreo relate to S V md or to Gk meter ? The difficulty in Gk is 
greater because apart from the -t- we have a short -e- in the 
stem of the verb. The same holds for Gm where ‘mother’ is 
modir/modor/muotar (preserving the long stem-vowel) and 
‘measuring’ is mala/metan/mezzan (with different vowels 
and consonants). 

I submit that L metior, Gk metreo and Gm metan/mezzan 
are secondary degenerate forms that derive not from the PIE 
root itself (as S V md does) but from a PIE derivative noun or 
verbal form like S mat-r (or mat-ra or verbal matt (or -mite) 
etc. IEL posits here two PIE roots: *me (> S V ma) and * met 
(Gk met-reo). This again enables scholars to ignore the 
obvious facts, indulge in their complicated conjectures and 
secure their “reconstructions”. But, of course, this hypothesis 
leaves unexplained the short and long radical vowels in the 
L, Gk, Gm verbs and the intrusion of -t- in Gk, of -1- in ON 
and of -zz- in OHG. In fact, here too S presents a more 
reasonable picture while the stems in the other branches 
seem to come from derivatives containing -t- and show 
break-downs and losses. 



96 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

26. What of S pitr (64) and the cognates in the other 
branches? The short -i- contrasts strongly with the -a- in the 
others; even Av has the stem patar- (and pitar). The stem pi¬ 
rn S can only be connected with that of pi-bati ‘drinks’: this 
does not mean much. The evidence of the other stems, Gk 
and L pa, Gm fa- etc, suggest an original stem *pa for S too 7 . 
Indeed, NIGT accepts this in saying that father is the 
‘protector’ and that the noun has changed from *pa-tr the root 
being V pa ‘protect’. In the absence of any other evidence, 
I accept this. For unknown reason, S *pa-tr ‘father’ decayed 
into pitr. Perhaps pitr prevailed in one dialect and 
subsequently became dominant. Strangely, patr as ‘drinker’ 
and ‘protector’ survives in Vedic texts. Note also that apart 
from Av pitar , the -i- vowel is found in L ju-piter (and Mars- 
piter). cognate with Gk Zeus- pater. S Dyaus-pitar. We don’t 
know. (IEL gives of course ph2ter with laryngeal.) But while 
the stem in the other branches is not linked with anything 
else, in S we find a plausible connection. There is nothing 
strange in regarding the father as guardian and protector with 
all that this entails. The mother gives measure and the father 
protection. In this case, S suffered decay in the form of the 
noun but it has a verb conjugation for 'Ipa and nouns 
connected with it in full OC. 

27. The cognates of ‘daughter’ (62) are not connected with 
any other stem in any branch. Only S has 4duh ‘extract milk’. 
The formation here is also very clear: duh+i+tf. The intrusive 
-i- is not unusual: see as-i-tf < 'las ‘eat’, tar-i-tr < V tr ‘pass 
across’, math-i-tr < 'lma(n)th ‘agitate’ etc. The S vb 'Iduh > 
dogdhi has no equivalents in the other branches. Attempts 
have been made to link S duh/dugh- with Gk teucho ‘make, 


7 IEL says that the PIE stem for 'father’ had the sound 3 ; this developed 
into i in S and a in the other branches. This could be true, of course, but in 
languages of historical times 3 turns out to be a degeneration of a and 
perhaps other vowels; so while this IEL supposition seems quite clever, it is 
groundless. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 97 

build’ and tughano ‘meet, happen’, C dual, Gm daug and B 
daug, all meaning ‘be suitable’. Even if these cognations are 
right, it is obvious that, e.g., Gk thugater ‘daughter’ cannot be 
cognate with Gk teuch-o or tugha-n-o - neither semantically 
nor phonetically. (Incidentally if tughano is cogn with S duh 
> dogdhi where has the Gk -n- come from?) It is easier to link 
phonetically Gth daug ‘to suit’ and dauh-ter but not so with 
OHG toug and tohter or B daug and dukte. Semantically, of 
course, the connection is even more difficult, since it is not 
easy to see how the daughter ‘is suitable’ when in very 
ancient societies the son was far more desirable and suitable. 
Then, again, C has the vb dual ‘it suits’ but no cognation for 
'daughter’ ( =ingen/merch, which are unconnected) and 
SI has dusti ‘daughter’ but no other cognate. Osc has futir 
‘daughter’ but L has no cognates at all. 

The idea of the daughter being ‘the-girl-who-milks’ may 
sound strange to us but it is not strange for those far-off times; 
even we had ‘milkmaids’ not so long ago. Further, if Gk 
tughan-o be accepted as cogn with S 'Iduh, then it could only 
come from a secondary PIE form like the V dob ana ‘act of 
extracting’: so, ‘that which befalls’ in Gk would be that which 
is extracted from the run of life and is suitable (?). 

28. Scholars are not clear about S pur ‘stronghold’ (65) 
and Vpr ‘fill’ (299). S pur is universally accepted as cognate 
with Gk polls and B pil(i)s ‘fort, town’ (65). This may well be 
so and the later use of pur > pura >puri certainly justifies the 
cognation. However in the RVpur denotes simply ‘defence’ or 
‘defensive field of force’ with magical and occult connotations 
(Kazanas 2002 and 2009) and only later came to mean ‘fort, 
town’ {pura, pun). Mayrhofer rightly rejects the connection 
of pur with piparti (and causative puraya- ) ‘fill’ but he is not 
justified not to link pur with piparti ‘protects, saves’. 
The Dhdtupatha gives 'Iprpurana-palana-yoh ‘in the sense 
of filling and protecting’. In S we find numerons relatives 
of y pr and pur. parana, partr, para parin, purana 



98 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

etc. When we look for cognates of polls and pil(i)s in Gk and 
B (or other branches) we find none. Scholars give some verbs 
as cognates of piparti in the sense of ‘filling’ and similar: thus 
Gk pim-ple-mi, L plere, C linaim - all ‘fill’ (299); C, Gm, B 
and SI have stems for ‘full’ (foil-, pil-, plu-}, also perro ‘pass 
through’, L portare ‘convey, lead’, Gth faran ‘travel, pull’ (all 
the latter questionable for me). But clearly there is no 
cognation for ‘defend, protect’. It is difficult to connect the 
concept of Gk polis ‘fort, town’ with ‘filling’ in -pie-. True, a 
town is full of people but the very ancient polis was not so 
thickly populated. In any case, a forest (full of trees and 
vegetation) or a lake (fall of water) would qualify better for the 
term polis, if we cling to this meaning. But in S the idea of 
‘defence, safety’ in V pr and pur has no difficulty. 

Incidentally, it is worth noting that although Gm, B and SI 
do not have the IE vb stem for ‘fill’ (329), they have the 
corresponding adj Gm fulls, B pilnas, SI plunu, all ‘full’. 
Here we have loss of the vb. But B has vb pil-dit and SI pluniti 
/ punity. The first may be an extension with dental like Gk 
pletho ‘be full, many’ and the second severely decayed 
forms. Or both could be of non-IE provenance. 

29. Very instructive is the case of ‘foot’ (16). S has the 
stems pad/pad- (weak/strong) ‘foot’ and also ^pad > vb 
padyate ‘falls, befalls’. Since the foot is the bodily part that 
constantly (rises and) “falls” we have semantic as well as 
phonetic agreement. Gk has pous (gen pod-os) and L pes (gen 
ped-is), Arm, Ht and Toch similar cognates, but none has a 
cogn vb similar to S pad-. Only Gm shows ge-fetan ‘fall’ (OE) 
and has cogns for ‘foot’ (Jot, fuoz). Corresponding to S pada 
‘step, site’, Arm has het ‘foottrace’, and Gk has pedon 
‘ground’ but Gm does not have this. Then SI has pada/pasti 
‘falls’ but no cogns for foot. Lith has the vb peduoti but its 
noun padas is ‘sandal, shoe’ (not ‘foot’). Ht and Toch A/B 
have the noun but not the verb. S has also adj padya ‘of foot’, 
so Gk in pezo- ‘on foot’ and Lith lengua-pedis ‘light-footed’. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 99 

Thus Arm, Ht, Toch, Gk and L have the cogn noun but not 
the vb while B and SI have the vb but not the noun. C has 
neither noun nor verb. Only Gm shows some OC while S, as 
usual, has a large cluster of derivatives: pat-ti, pat-tr, padana, 
-padi, padin, paduka ‘shoe’, etc. 

30. The stem for earth is another interesting case - with 
some problematic variants: S ksam-, Gk chthon (dialectal 
gdan-, dam-, ?sem-'), L humus, C du (OIr: ‘place’ rather than 
‘earth’), B zeme, SI zemlja, Alb dhe\ perhaps with 
metathesis, Ht tegan and Toch AB tkam/kem, not Gm. S has 
the adj ksamya and Gk chthonio- S has ksama too for ‘earth’ 
which means also ‘endurance, patience’. That the earth 
abides , endures and is patient is a very old idea, of course, 
found in the earliest traditions. In Hesiod’s Theogony Mother 
Earth endures all the ill treatment of Ouranos (II 159-160). In 
the Old Testament one of the Psalms says that ‘the earth 
abideth’ (119:90) and Ecclesiastes affirms that ‘the earth 
stands for ever’ (1,4). However, IEL decided that ksama 
‘earth’ is one word of uncertain origin (other than ksam- 
‘earth’) and ksama patience (attested in the epic) is a 
different one, derived from 'Iksam ‘being patient, enduring’. 
Again, V ksam > ksamate etc ‘endure’, found in the RV, is not 
found in any of the other branches. The obvious conclusion 
is, as Whitney and the MSD recognize, that V ksam generates 
all the others -ksam/ksama ‘earth’, ksama ‘enduring’, ksama 
‘patience’, ksamtr ‘one who endures’, ksaman ‘soil’, etc and 
the vb conjugation(s). 

31. The curious development of cognates like L humus 
‘earth’ may constitute another difficulty for the thinking of 
IEL. For in parallel, we find L homo ‘man’ and cogns in other 
branches: Gth guma, B zmogus and Toch AB som/saumo, all 
‘man’ (71). This is indeed curious since there is no early IE 
text presenting man as springing out of, or being generated in 
some other fashion by, Earth. This notion is prevalent in the 
Near East: in Mesopotamian Atrahasis, IV-V, Mother Earth or 


100 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Womb-goddess, wise Mami Belet-ili fashions humans out of 
lumps of earth (but mixed with the substance of a god killed 
for the purpose: Dailey, 14-7); in the Judaic Old Testament 
early in ‘Genesis’, God makes man out of earth and breaths 
life into him; in Egypt, potter-god Khnum fashions men out of 
mud on his wheel. In a Greek myth, the survivors of the Flood, 
Deukalion and Purha, throw stones behind them and these 
become human beings; in the Vedic Tradition, the baby-girl 
Sita is discovered in a furrow in a field: neither myth suggests 
the spontaneous generation of mankind from earth. So it is 
difficult to see why the same lexical entity refers both to 
‘earth’ and ‘man’. We must assume that this occurred when 
people thought that man was constituted only of earthly 
materials. Here S perhaps suffered the loss of this stem for 
‘man’. But there is another curious aspect. Toch A/B have for 
‘earth’ tkam/ kem which are not necessarily cognate with 
‘man’ som/saumo. Gm has not the IE stem for ‘earth’, only 
guma for ‘man’. Lith zeme ‘earth’ and zmogus ‘man’ may not 
be cognates. The case is not at all clear. Be that as it may, this 
aspect does not nullify the generation from 'Iksam of the 
other nouns (including ksam- ‘earth’)and the vb conjugation 
or the fact that the other branches lost their cogns of vb 
ksamate and other derivatives. 

32. Of the animals, a most revealing case is the mouse 
(208). The cogn stem does not appear in C and B; S has mus, 
Gk mus, L mus, Gm mus, SI mysu, Alb ml and Arm mu-kn. 
These stems hang isolated in all these languages. In S again we 
find a full vb 'Imus > mus-na-ti ‘steals’ and a large family of 
related words: mus-aka ‘stealer, mouse’ (cf a Icar ‘move’ > 
caraka ; ^lyac ‘ask’ > yacaka); mus-lvan(t) ‘robber’, 
muska(ra) ‘testicle’; musti ‘clenched fist’; etc. Again S 
displays OC whereas the others show break-down and heavy 
loss(es). 

33- The European branches fare worse with ‘rain’ (118). 
Only S, Gk and C have a cogn stem with a sibilant s/s before 
the final vowel. Some would include ON ur ‘fine rain’ but 
this should rather link with var/our- ‘water’ since it lacks the 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 101 

sibilant. Only S has a cogn verb V vrs > varsati and other forms 
(with pra-') and words like vrsti ‘rainfall’, vrsan 
‘(impregnating) strong, bull’, vrsni ‘manly’, varsuka ‘full of 
rain’, varstr ‘rain-maker’ etc. Here, the loss is total in L, Gm, 
B and SI and quite severe in Gk and C where the nouns for 
‘rain’ stand quite isolated. 

34. Consider also ‘wind’ (141). Apart from Gk, all 
branches have the common cognate: S vata/vayu\ L ventus-, C 
gewynt/awel (avel); Gm wind-s (Gth, OE); B vej-(a)s; 
SI vetru. Yet Gk does have the cogn verb ae-mi ‘I blow’, as 
do S, Gm and SI (269). But some details are worth examining 
further. The stems in L, in C gewynt and in Gm have n unlike 
S, B and SI and C avel. It may be argued that the -n- is original 
and was lost in the other stems. But the four stems of the vb, S 
va-, Gk ae-, Gm wai (Gth)/ waw (OE) and SI veja- have no 
-n-. So it is much more probable that the original root had no 
-n and that this is intrusive. Frankly, I suspect that the L vent , 
C gewynt and Gm vind/wind are not true or immediate 
descendants of PIE. It is possible that this stem (with -ri) came 
from a non-IE language and was adopted because of its 
similarity to the IE one. Be that as it may, Gk has no IE stem 
for ‘wind’ although it has the IE cognate vb ‘blow’ with 
which is linked with aer ‘air/dampness’; L, C and B have the 
IE stem for ‘wind’ but not that of the vb ‘blow’. Here again, 
while C and B lacked an early literature, L certainly did not. 
S vd-yu is a regular formation, like pd-yu, man-yu etc; so is 
vd-ta, of course, with the participial -ta (as in dp-ta, kr-ta, 
mr-ta etc etc). 

35. Latin shows a similar loss in ‘curve, hook’ (159) and 
the vb ‘bend, curve’ - and so does Gk. Gm, B and SI lack the 
common cognate, but not the others: S anka, Gk ogkos, 
L uncus, C ekath. Here only S has a cogn verb ‘bend, curve’ 
in V a(n)c > a(n)cati. Ignoring other branches we see that L 
has additional cognates ancora ‘anchor’, ancus ‘servant 
(= one who bows)’, angulus ‘angle’; Gk too has additionally 
agkale ‘crook of arms (for embrace)’, agkon ‘elbow’, agkos 
‘valley (=hollow in ground)’, agkulo- ‘curved’. But neither 



102 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

has a verb related to these stems. The S vb a(n)c- has an early 
Vedic pedigree and is quite productive: ankasa ‘horse¬ 
trapping’, arikura ‘sprout, swelling’, -anc ‘turned toward’, 
ancala ‘garment-border’ etc. No cogn verb appears in any 
other branch. 

36. The act of ‘seeing’ (349) reveals much the same. 
A stem dars/derk/tarh- is common to all except B and SI. Of 
the five, S has drsti, Gk derxis and C ro-darc for ‘sense of 
sight’. Some branches have a participial adj but with 
differentiated meaning: S drsta ‘seen’ fully coherent with the 
root; C an-dract ‘dark, not lit’ (obvious deviation from vb and 
‘sight’); Gm torht ‘bright’ (also deviation and different from 
C); Alb drite ‘light’ (deviation); C has also noun derc ‘eye’. 
Again only S has a large family with consistent meaning 
‘seeing’: apart from drsti it has drs, drsi , darsa(na) , didrk-su 
‘desiring to see’, drastr, etc, and cpds like ta-drs, ‘such-like’. 
On the other hand, S does lack the present tense of drs- 
having pas-yati instead. (This situation is very much 
commoner in other branches, as we have seen.) 

37. In this cognation we observe again the phenomenon 
of vowel gradation. The S medial -r- develops into -ar- , -dr 
(guna and vrddhi) and sometimes into -ra- (see §19, end). 
The -ra- may seem unexpected in place of *darstr (like 'Ikrs 
‘ploughing’> kar-str, m Ivrs > varstr etc), but it is an alternative 
formation (perhaps different dialect) as with V bhr > bhratr 
‘brother’, 'tsrj ‘emit’ > sras-tr ‘creator’, 'isprs ‘touch’ > spras-tr 
etc. However, there is no regularity in the Gk derk/dork/drak- 
or C darc/derc/drac . The changes in these branches are in 
fact haphazard and don’t merit the term gradation which 
should properly apply only to S vowel-changes. (This is an 
issue discussed at length in Kazanas 2004, §§28-31.), 8 


8 The gradation in Gk goes as follows with the vb (pres) derk-omai, aor 
edra-kon , perf de-dork-a. Vb pertho ‘besiege, sack’ similarly has aor 
e-prath-on, perf pe-porth-a . But perd-omai ‘break-wind has aor e-pard-on, 
perf regular pe-pord-a . Then teip-o ‘delight, satisfy’ has aor e-teip-sa and 
passive aor e-taip-en (no perf attested). Vb sterg-d ‘care for, love’, aor e-sterg-. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 103 

38. The nouns denoting ‘stream’ (131) and the cogn 
verbs ‘flow, stream’ (301) show a similar picture. The nouns 
S sro-, Gk rheu-, rho-, C srma-, sru- th and Lith srav-, sriov- 
are truly cognate. Gm stro- and SI stru- may be related to the 
others but they have the intrusion of -t-. Which of the two 
groups is right and represents the original stem? This is not 
difficult. S A sru > vb sravati, flows’, Gk vb rheo (and rheia) ‘I 
flow’ and Lith sraveti ‘ooze out, run’ have no -t-\ moreover, 
no other branch has a cogn verb with -t- : So the Gm and Si 
stems of the noun should be discounted. It lacks the 
cognation totally. But here S, Gk, C and Lith support one 
another fully. 

Here we note again the disparities in gradation. C, Gm and 
SI have no other cogn nouns or vbs to provide evidence. Lith 
also provides no evidence of gradation. But Gk, apart from 
vb rheo and m rhoos, has the n rheuma and rhuax. Since the 
Gk usual gradation is verb-stem vl -e- noun-stem vl-o- (e.g. 
leg-o ‘say’ etc logoos ‘word’ etc; nern-o ‘apportion’ 
nomos ‘custom, law’; etc), one wonders how we got — eu- 
and -u-. The perfect of this verb has also -u- in eirhueka. 
We meet such developments with Gk cheo ‘pour (in 
sacrifice)’: n cheuma, chuma, m chutes and f chutra; this vb 
also has its perf with -u- in ke-chu-ka. I suspect that this u 


(later) perf e-storg-a . But we find a similar perf with vb tikto ‘produce’, aor 
e-tek-on, perf te-tok-a - and I can’t but wonder at the gradation of -e- in the 
aorist! Now, this is not at all regular because rhipt-o ‘throw’ has aor er-rhip- 
sa and perf er-rhiph-a, where the -i- is maintained an the -t- is lost. Then pino 
(pond in Aedic) ‘drink’ has aor e-pi-on and perf pe-pd-ka - where the 
-n- vanishes (the -o- of the perf may come from the Aeolic stem). For klin-o 
‘incline’ has aor e-klin-a and perf ke-kli-ka . Then again deid-o ‘be fearful’, 
aor e-dei-sa , perf de-doi-ka”[ but ktein-o ‘kill’, aor e-ktan-on , perf ek-ton-a ; 
klei-o ‘close, shut’, aor ekleisa, ke-klei-ka ; leip-o ‘abandon’, aor e-lip-on , 
perf le-loi-pa ; peith-o ‘persuade’, aor e-pith-on , pe-peika ; speir-o ‘sow, aor 
e-speir-a , perf e-sparka. Consider too : sphall-o ‘err’, aor esphela, perf 
e-sphalka ; thall-o ‘flourish’, aor e-thal-on , perf te-thel-a ! There is so much 
confusion here that only a terrible loss of memory can account for it and, of 
course, we cannot talk of gradation except as a farce. 



104 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

(and the Lith av in srav) represents like S.slsru a truer line of 
descent than all the other forms which must be decayed or 
distorted. In the circumstances this vl u would seem to have 
no other good or lawful reason for being there: it is there as 
an inheritance from PIE. 

39. It is difficult to see how from an original PIE *sreu (as 
IEL gives this stem) came S si sru > sro-, srav-, srav-, C sru, Lith 
srav- and srau- and Gk rhe-, rheu-, rho- and rhu-. On the 
contrary, it is very easy to envisage a process as in S si sru > 
sro, srau (the regular gradation) devolving gradually into all 
the other related stems including Gk rheu- (by corruption of 
au or by analogy with m log-< vb leg-. The same holds for S 
'ihu > ju-ho-ti and Gk cheo. IEL gives as PIE the “root” *gheu. 
But apart from the che(u)- no other branch has, or needs, e or 
eu. S has hu-/ho-; L has Ju; Gth has giu- and Arm jo-. Now, as 
was said, apart from nouns with -u- in their stem, the Gk rheo 
and cheo have their perf in errhueka and ke-chuka. The vl - 
u- appears generally in the perf of vbs with -u- in their 
present stems: lu-o ‘loosen’ > le-luka, phu- 6 ‘grow’ > pe- 
phu-ka, etc. Gk verbs in -eo form their stem differently. Thus 
deo ‘tie’ > dedeka and deo ‘lack, need’ > dedeeka-, neo 
‘swim’ > neneuka-, pled ‘float, sail’ > pepleuka 9 ; pneo (and 
pneio, like rheo/ rheio) ‘blow, breathe’ > pepneuka. All 
these vbs (and others) have no derivative stems with u. Only 
rhed/rheio and cheo show the -u- development. Is this 
corruption or innovation? Neither. It reflects the true original 
stem as in S si sru and slhu (the -u- or other labial vl being 
present in the cognates of other branches). 

These Gk relics, retained by accident contrary to the 
tendencies of the language, show clearly that the original 
roots were not *sreu and *gheu, and that the S dhatus sru and 
hu are much closer to PIE. 


9 Gk pled ‘float, sail’ is cogn with S slplu > plavati, Lith plauti, etc. This vb 
has no derivative stems with -u- (unlike rhe- and che-l It follows fally the 
pattern of wed and pneo. Some claim pneo is cogn with ON fnysa! Otfneosan 
‘sneeze’ but I doubt this cognation because of the -s- in both Gm stems. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 105 

40. A most interesting case is that of ‘smoke’ (127). All 
branches have the IE common stem but in Gk thumos means 
‘spirit, soul, passion’ and Gm town is ‘steam’. Apart from S 
1 l dhu and Gk thu-no no other branch has a cogn verb. The L 
suf-fire ‘fumigate, scent’ is supposed to be a cognate but this 
shows a phonetic (fumus and fire) and semantic (‘smoke’ and 
‘fumigation, perfuming’) deviation. However, S dhuma 
comes from 'Idhu ‘shake (off)’; another derivative is dhu-pa 
‘perfume, scent’ and vb dhupa-ya- ‘fumigate’: so S covers 
the L fumus/-fire (if this cognation is valid). The Gm town 
‘steam’ is also covered by S dhu-maya- ‘steams’ (as well as 
‘smokes’). It is not difficult to see how V dhu generates in 
S all these derivatives. Smoke is shaken off by something 
burning and people often burn herbs or powders to fumigate 
or create a pleasant scent or a medicinal inhalation. Gk, be it 
noted, has a secondary derivative thu-mia-ma denoting 
‘(the smoke of a) burnt offering’. What is intriguing at first 
sight is the Gk meaning which refers to man’s psychological 
make-up. 

Now the MSD gives also ‘a saint’ for dhuma, as well as 
‘smoke’. This surely touches on man’s inner make-up. The 
adj dhumra means ‘smoke-coloured’ but also ‘dim (of 
intellect)’. And dhiinoti/dhunute can, and at times does, 
mean ‘shake off, remove, liberate oneself from’ (MSD under 
dhu). Thus Gk thumos ‘spirit’ is not a deviation - provided 
we stop thinking all the time of smoke. But Gk preserves 
another tell-tale detail. It has two verbs thud, or one verb with 
two different semantic lines: one ‘sacrifice’ the other ‘rush, 
attach, etc’. It has also thu-mia-o ‘burn offering(s)’ ( >thu- 
mia-ma) which may correspond to S dhumdya-. One would 
think here are enough verbs. But no, prolix Gk gives us 
another one, thuno/thuneo ‘dash, attack’. These forms retain 
the [-n-] which is also the mark of S dhatus of class V, VIII and 
IX. -4dhu is both class V and IX (and VI). So the S'Idhu covers 
all the different developments in Gk and Gm. 

41. Let us look more closely at the cognates of ‘dying’. 
We have death (98) and the vb dying (291). The cogn noun 


106 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

for ‘death’ is found in S, L, B and SI - S m-rtyu etc. The vb ‘to 
die’ is in S mr-/mar-/mri-, in Gk e-mor-ten only (in lex), L 
morior, B mirti and SI mreti. Gm knows nothing of this stem. 
The ‘one dead’ is in S mrta, L mortuus and SI mrutuu; Gk has 
only brotos and ambrotos ‘mortal, immortal’. Gk, despite its 
early and redoubtable literature, has preserved only a few 
and mostly decayed traces (see also mar-ain-o ‘wither’). SI, 
despite its late and not all that rich literature has preserved the 
full gamut and here displays Organic Coherence. B (which 
here is Lith) has preserved both noun and verb but not the 
participial adjective. L too here displays OC. But, again, 
neither L nor SI retain the range of verbal and nominal 
derivatives found in S (all Vedic forms): mara-ti/ te, etc; 
mara(-na), marayu ‘perishable’, marta ‘mortal, (Gk 
mortos)' mara ‘death, pestilence’, marin ‘killing’, mumursu 
‘wishing, about to, die’. 

42. Much more revealing is the examination and 
comparison of the survivals of the root for ‘freeing’ (305). 
S has the vb > lmu(n)c > mu(n)cati and Lith maukti ‘ strip off, 
wipe’. Gk and L preserves the stem only in a compound and 
have no other cognates; moreover, the compounds in both 
languages denote the cleaning or wiping of the nose. In 
contrast S has its usual range of derivatives, all Vedic: -muc 
‘freeing, sending’; mukti ‘liberation’; mumuksu ‘eager to 
free’; mocana ‘deliverance’; moktr ‘liberator’, moksa 
‘release’; etc. 

43. The cognates for ‘shield’ (179) provide much food for 
puzzlement. S does not have this cognate (and Gk aspis, - dos 
gen sing, may not be acceptable, which is unimportant). We 
have L scutum, C sciath, Lith sky das and SI stitu. Lith sky das 
comes from the Gm sci-d/t ‘plank’, which comes from Gth 
skaidan ‘to cut’. The SI stem seems to be related to C sciath 
(despite the difficulty of sc- and st-~). But now the C and the L 
stems come from a proto-Celtic *scoito-m or a proto-italic 
*scouto-m which in turn came from a PIE root *sken- as in 
S 'Isku > skunati/skunoti/scauti ‘cover’. Indeed, a shield 
offers cover against missiles of all kinds. There are other 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 107 

theories too, but we can skip them. Therefore, is ‘shield’ 
really PIE? 

Now, the fact is that no sort of weapon has a common 
cognate. So the shield is hardly likely to be so lucky. We have 
only some pairs: S asani ‘tip, bolt’, Gk akon ‘javelin’ (cf Lith 
asnis ‘blade, edge’); S isu and Gk ios ‘arrow’; S darn, Gk doru 
‘piece of wood, club, spear’; C gae and OE gar ‘spear’C?); S 
parasu, Gk pelekus ‘axe’ (probably a loan from non-IE?). 
Little else worth discussing. There are not clear inherited 
cogn stems for knife, sword, axe, javelin, bow and arrow, 
sling, breastplate or corslet and helmet. Most of the cognates 
of these items are intra-familial loans. 

All this is quite extraordinary because the evidence we 
have from the Celts, the Italic and Germanic people, the 
Greeks, the Hittites and so on, indicates fairly warlike, 
rapacious people. So one would expect some at least of the 
stems denoting weapons to be common to 4 or 5 branches if 
not all (and here I include Alb, Arm, Ht, Iran and Toch). Yet, 
apart from ‘spear’ (182-183) and the questionable ‘shield’, not 
one stem is common to 4 branches (only one third of the total)! 
Were the PIEs really bellicose fellows? We know the IEs in late 
proto-historic times when they had already dispersed. What of 
the common condition before the dispersal? Well, we don’t 
know but the evidence of the cognates for military matters is 
decidedly negative. 

44. Another field where there is great divergence of stems 
is religion. Apart from the stem for ‘god’ which is common 
more or less in all branches (S deva, L deus. B dievas etc) 10 

10 The Gk stem theos is doubted and has been rejected by most scholars; 
this is based on the notion that Gk theta (0) corresponds only and invariably 
to S dh-. It is true that almost invariably Gk -th- = S -dh- but there is also S 
dvar ‘door’ which appears in Gk as thura. Then, the conjectural postulate 
*tbesos as source of theos is based only on thes-phatos which is hardly a 
secure basis. The linking with L fes-tus (note the long e as opposed to the 
short e in Gk and an additional conjecture of a PIE root dhes cannot be taken 
seriously. So theos is not impossible. After all Gk has several aberrant cogns 
like hippos ‘horse’ (S asva , L equus etc, fairly ‘lawful’ correspondences) 
or o-noma ‘name’ (S ndman, L nomen etc), etc. 



108 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

no other entity idea or item can be found in three or more 
instances. The cogn ‘altar’ found in L, C, Gm, B and SI is, in 
fact, the L word. Close to forming a cogn group is on the one 
hand L precan ‘pray, beg, beseech’ and SI prositi ‘ask for’ 
and on the other S prach-/prc- and Gm fraihnan ‘question’. 
But, of course, ‘ask’ in the religious sense of ‘ask for, beg’ in 
prayer (< precan) is very different from ‘ask=question’. For 
beg’ and ‘beseech’ S has prdrthaya- : bhiks- and yac-. (And 
Gk arFa ‘prayer’, L orare ‘plead’, a legal term primarily and 
secondarily ‘pray’, and S aryati ‘acknowledges, praises’ are 
not really related, as some have claimed.) 

Here too we find some pairs only that are true cognates: 
S yaja-te/ti ‘worships, sacrifices’ and Gk hazo-mai 
I worship . From these we have S yajha/yajniya ‘holy, 
sacrificial’ and Gk hagno- ‘holy’ and hagio-C cf S yaga) ‘holy, 
sacred . Then there is S uh/ohate ‘praises’ and Gk eucho-mai 
‘I proclaim’ > pros-eu 0 ‘I pray (to god-s); also Arm uzem ‘I 
intend, will : But note here the great semantic differences. 
With the stem is connected S vdghat ‘sacrificer, supplicant’ 
and L vovere ‘pledge, vow’. We also find for ‘heaven’ (in the 
sense of 'paradise') C nem and SI nebo from the cogn stem as 
in S nabhas ‘sky (cloud, mist)’. In other cases the apparent 
cognates turn out to be loans or derivatives. Thus the cogn 
stem for 'devil’, found as deoful and variants in Gm, dijavolu 
and variants in SI, diabul in C and so on, they all eventually 
come from Gk diabolos ‘slanderer, distorter’. The C sacart 
‘priest’ is a loan from L sacerdote and the SI iereji from Gk 
hiereus ‘priest’. 

Generally, there are disparate terms for ‘altar, anchorite, 
demon, devotion, heaven, hell, prayer, priest, religion, 
sacrifice, ritual, saint and sanctity, worship’ and the like. This 
diversity shows that the religion and rituals we find in the 
branches were developed after the dispersal and that the 
original PIE religion was quite different from what we know of 
pagan polytheisms. That there was polytheism and 
henotheism (—worship of one deity above others in a specific 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 109 

place at a specific time) is undoubted: we find, e.g., the 
common name S Aryaman, Men Areimene, C Ariomanus and 
Gm Irmin, or S Parjanya, Si Perun(u), B Perkunas and Gm 
Fjorgin, or S Dyaus, Ht Siu, Gk Zeus/Dia-, L Ju[s]-, Gm 
Tiivaz. This shows multiplicity. On the other hand, there must 
have been a kind of monotheism, since many IE traditions 
make some effort to define or at least indicate a Primal Source 
for all cosmogony or a Progenitor for theogonic generations: 
in Greece, in Homer it is Okeanos ‘ocean-water’, in Hesiod 
Chaos and in Orphism Chronos ‘time’; in the Scandinavian 
Edda it was a Chasm-of-nothing; and so on. In the RV it is 
stated explicitly that all gods are expressions of That One, 
which is before all creation and all creation evolves from It 
{RV 1.164.46; 3-54.8; 8.58.2; 10.129). Here too, the Vedic 
Tradition probably retained more faithfully the PIE religious 
views. 

45. I could certainly continue with many more IE stems 
like those for heating (S tap- etc), fainting (S tarn- etc), tying 
(S nah- etc), moving (S miv- etc), growing (S vrdh- etc), 
remembering (S smr- etc) and so on. In all these cases we 
shall observe what was established much earlier (§ 21): one, S 
reflects more clearly the pristine PIE roots than any other 
branch; two, while S has OC in most cases with the full gamut 
of lexical items in verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs, the 
other branches show severe break-downs and losses in one or 
more categories. 

Of course S is not perfect and I stress this. It, too, has 
break-downs and losses and innovations. Very curious is the 
case of S prasna ‘turban’ which is thought to be connected 
with plaiting (331), Gk pleko, etc. It is curious because 
prasna is also ‘question’ and is a derivative of % Iprach (prch ) 
‘ask’. Of old, Meillet would not accept Gk pleko and S prasna 
as cogn with L plect, Gm fleht- and SI plest- (1908:37), but this 
doesn’t explain S prasna. Just as curious are S snih- and 
mrj-. the former means ‘be moist, be fond of, attached’ while 
in all the other branches the cogn stem means ‘snowing’©; in 


110 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

S the latter denotes ‘rubbing, polishing’ while the others refer 
to milking! I give no answer here to the question which 
meaning is original 11 . As S (or Vedic) is not the PIE language, 
it is natural that it too should suffer losses (and show 
innovations). But these are comparatively few. 

46. The S 'Idrs is a good example. It lacks the forms of the 
present which are supplied by pasyati. IEL regards pasyati as 
a decayed form of *spasyati and connects it with L specio, Gm 
spehon ‘espy, watch’and Gk skept- (<*spekt- ) ‘view’. This 
may be correct but the Dhdtu-patha gives both 4pas and -4spas 
so that the Vedic perf pa-spase (as sjsprs ‘touch’, perf pa- 
sprse) may be from si spas which has the same meaning. Then 
Tocharian AB have pak- ‘intend’ not *spak-. So there 
probably were two dhatus in S - but only one elsewhere. In 
any event, 4drs lost its present tense. 

47. The case of ‘ear’ is instructive. We have two stems. 
One is the Gk ous, L auris, etc. Here S probably suffered the 
loss of this stem. It has the -4av which includes among its 
meanings that of ‘grasping, perceiving’ and also ‘hearing'. 
But surprisingly, in no branch where this stem is found, are 
there any cognates. In each branch, the vb for ‘hearing’ (see 
318) is unconnected with this stem. Gk has beside kluo, the 
vb ( akouo and) akroasthai ‘listen’ in which some see the cpd 
akro (edge, end) +*ous (ear) + that (vb-ending), which, being 
a derivative, does not explain ous. L fares no better: it has 
audire ‘hear’ and aus culture ‘listen’. Here some take audire 
< *aus-dh- with *aus as the origin of auris ‘ear’; in auscultare 
they see again *aus- and cult- as with metathesis from clu-t, 
(=S s ru). But again we have no explanation or cognate for 
‘ear’. (All these conjectures seem true, and it is interesting 
that scholars seriously toy about with such complications yet 

11 Leaning in favour of Sanskrit after all the items examined, I could opt 
for this language and show speculatively how from the meanings in Sanskrit 
the other meanings were derived. But this is not the point. To say that the 
majority is right and therefore Sanskrit meanings are subsequent 
innovations is too facile; ‘democratic’ majorities are not necessarily true. So 
I leave it. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 111 

refuse to see the simple formation ma+tr > matr ‘mother’, 
§25.) On the other hand, C has both the cogn au ‘ear’ and 
clua/clust-, its vb ‘hear’ is clui/ clyw-, unrelated to au but 
related to clu-\ Gm has auso (Gth) and variants eyr/ora (ON, 
OHG) but also hlyst ( ON); its vb ‘hear’ is OE hyran and OHG 
horan and its vb ‘listen’ is ON hlydan and OE hlystan - 
neither group connected to auso/eyr- but connected to hlyst. 

What do we learn from these data? Obviously the ous/ 
auris stems derived from a root like S 'lav and developed in 
parallel with the stems srotra/clyst/ hlyst- in some branches 
then took over. As the S stem srotra indicates, the ear was the 
instrument (-tra) for hearing (sru > sro-\ as ar-i-tra ‘oar’ is 
the instrument (- tra ) for propelling (r > ar -) a boat, or vas-tra 
‘garment’ is the means whereby one dresses. 

S supplies the probable explanation (not entirely 
unnoticed by IEL). S has the indeclinable avis ‘evidently, 
manifestly, observably’ related to Au avis and SI ave/jave 
‘evidently’. IEL suggests that the cognates ou-s/au-ris etc are 
related to this avis- so also the prefix in L au-dire ‘hear’, in 
Gk aisthanomai ‘observe, take notice’ and Ht uh-hi ‘I see’. 
S avis is related to ~lav which has several meanings: one 
group is ‘favour, promote, protect’, the other ‘observe, 
notice’ (Mayrhofer). The Dhatupatha gives a long list 
including raksana ‘protecting’, priti ‘favour’, vrddhi 
‘increase, promotion’, also avagama ‘perceiving, 
understanding’ and sravana ‘hearing’. It is very likely that 
the stem in ous/auris etc appeared before the IE dispersal 
and many branches retained it (in one or other form), while 
others retained the ‘instrument for hearing’ like S srotra. 
C retained both au and clua-. S probably reflects the 
true primitive situation with Vs ru > srotra for hearing and 
'lav > avis for general perception. 12 

12 Indian philosophy states that the first manifestation is in akasa ‘ether, 
space’ and this is a vibration of sound in silence. Clearly the bodily sense 
connected with this phenomenon is hearing. Is this idea so ancient as to 
belong to PIE thinking? For this is suggested by the S 'lav >avis and the 
ramifications in the other branches. How old is really Indie philosophy (and 



112 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

There are several other decays and losses in S but as was 
said these are few in comparison. After all, the numbers 
in § 12 are quite eloquent. Of the 404 stems examined, S 
lacks 53; next is Gm with 145, Gk with 149 and so on. 

48. Oral Tradition and the AIT. How did the 
Indoaryans manage to maintain an oral tradition of such 
quality that their culture retained more cultural elements (eg 
names of deities) and many more lexical items (and 
grammatical features as any text on IE philology testifies: see 
Kazanas 2004)? 

The only explanation I can think of regarding the 
superiority in retentions of Sanskrit is that the Indoaryans 
moved very little or not at all. We saw earlier that they had 
developed an oral tradition that now seems definitely to have 
been far more efficient than any of the other branches (§ 14), 
since, even as late as the 7th cent CE and even in the 20th, the 
sacred texts were transmitted orally from one generation to the 
next within brahmin families. It was an incomparable 
systematic tradition as we saw in § 14, above. 

The Aryan Invasion/Immigration Theory has the 
Indoaryans enter Saptasindhu (which was allegedly populated 
by Dravidians, Mundas and/or, other speakers of South Asian 
languages) c 1700-1500 BC. But they did not arrive after a few 
months’ travel from the PIE homeland: they made, according 
to some recent theories, stops at the Urals where they indulged 
in cultural exchanges with the Finno-Ugrians, and in Iran in 
common with the Iranians from whom they had not as yet 
seperated. Let us now assume that, as most Indoeuropeanists 
claim, the homeland was the Pontic or South Russian Steppe - 
even though there is no evidence of any kind for this. The 
Indo-Iranians move eastward to the (southern) Urals and stay 
there for three or four generations (or ten: who knows?) in 


its systems) - after putting aside later developments and the AIT 
chronology?.. .Tantalizing questions. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 113 

proximity to the Finno-Ugrians, then move south, either over 
the Caucasus west of the Caspian (less likely since Vedic has 
no evidence of lexical loans from Caucasian languages) or 
down along the eastern shores of the Caspian, to Iran. Then, 
after some decades again, the Indoaryans alone move further 
south-east (in waves?) and settle in Saptasindhu, whence, 
since by general agreement there was desiccation, they moved 
eastward to the Ganges basin following the natives who were 
at the time (cl700) doing just that. 

Now, it should be obvious to any unprejudiced mind that a 
people in continual move over thousands of miles could not 
maintain the unique systematic oral tradition associated with 
the Indoaryans. On the other hand this tradition could not have 
developed after they reached the Ganges basin because the 
RV mentions far too often the 7 rivers (1.32.12; 34.8; 35.8; etc, 
etc) - and even M.lWitzel admits that the RV was composed 
round the river Sarasvat$ area (2001 § 3). So when did it 
develop since the RV already contains the references to the 
area and all those inherited 

It is a well known fact of history that people on the move 
for a long period tend, especially if they are non-literate, to 
lose elements of their culture, while their language suffers 
decay and losses, much more than a people remaining 
sedentary, as several indoeuropeanists have stated (Hock 
1991: 467-9; Burrow 1973: 10; Lockwood 1969: 43); and this 
because they have little leisure to pass their lore to the new 
generation and/or they meet with, and absorb elements from, 
alien cultures. Therefore, either we hold onto our habitual 
notions and deny the fact that the PP and POC favour the 
Indoaryans, or we accept the fact that the Indoaryans 
preserved (in that astonishing RV) much more than any other 
branch and therefore moved very little or not at all. 

49. It could be argued that the IAs developed their 
complex but secure system of oral transmission while on the 
move. In fact, Mallory did so (Nov 2004 : see § 4 above) - and 



114 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

cited as example the Jews. But these people were literate 
certainly when they first appear in history (11th cent BC: 
Dunstan 1998) or from the time of Moses cl200 BC(?). But, if 
that were so, what would the IAs (or Indo-Iranians, since they 
were one people, according to the AIT) be transmitting and 
thus preserving? Their sacred RV was composed in the 
Saptasindhu. If they had developed their superb system 
while on the move, then they would have at least a few tales 
of their adventurous trekking and these would have been 
embodied in the hymns of the RV. The Jews indeed 
wandered about for many centuries in the Near East, from the 
time when Abraham and his clan left Ur, cl900 BC (if all this 
is historically true: opinions are divided for and against), until 
they finally settled in Judea: so their scriptures tell us. (But 
note here that Ur in Mesopotamia had literacy for 1000 years 
earlier, so the Jews probably have had it also.) Not so the RV: 
in the hymns there is not even a hint of this hypothetical 
travel and its (mis-)adventures. We can therefore forget this 
empty argument. 13 

50. It may also be argued, as was done by Mallory (2002), 
that if the Indoaryans retained most and their historical seat (or 
its environs), is the PIE homeland, then the people who moved 
a little distance, like the Iranians and the Tocharians, should 
have retained more than other branches, and those who moved 
farthest, the Celts and the Germans, should have retained the 
least. This is not the case, of course, and I certainly mean no 
such thing by the Preservation Principle. Once a people starts 
moving away, many other factors come into play and we 
cannot apply the simplistic formula “more distance, fewer 
retentions enacting the ‘scientist’ (whatever this means). 
The Tocharians provide a good example. They moved 

13 A much more valid parallel would be the Gypsies who left India in the 
early centuries CE, moved northwestward through Persia and spread in the 
Near East, to North Africa, the Balkans and Europe (Hock 1996; Fraser 1995; 
chs 1-2). Now, they have legends of their travels (at least in Greece) but their 
language has only just sufficient elements to indicate its Indie origin (like the 
older one of the Kassites and Mitannis). 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 115 

comparatively little but their retentions are meagre. Their 
written records show that they adopted Buddhism. There is no 
trace in them of the IE polytheist religion, and therefore of IE 
elements other than linguistic ones. One can only speculate 
that even before Buddhism came there the people had already 
forgotten much of their culture. 

People leave their native land in large numbers for various 
reasons. The Pilgrim Fathers left Britain seeking mainly 
religious freedom. In pre-classical Greece, people left 
and formed colonies for economic and political reasons. 
Sometimes some few people may leave for exploration and 
adventure while others seek to spread their (superior as they 
think) culture - like buddhist and Christian missionaries. 
Thereafter other factors will influence all these categories (the 
devoted missionaries to a lesser degree). They may be 
subjugated; they may meet a very attractive alien culture; they 
may be very sensitive and may succumb easily to a foreign 
culture; and so on. Nobody now can know what the Celts, the 
Germans, the Balts or the Slavs met in their travels across 
Europe before they settled in their historical homes. 
Nobody knows why they left in the first place. The pre- 
historical archaeological researches that trace various 
movements of people in Europe like the Kurgan ones from 
the Pontic steppe, as is commonly claimed (i.e. before say 
1800 BC) cannot really identify any IE people. Any so called 
identifications are conjectures in a world of speculation - no 
more. (It is curious that mainstreamers do not apply 
‘scientific’ standards here also.) 14 


14 Not without good reason, Mallory wrote to me (§ 3,4) that we need a 
time-machine to go back and check the total vocabulary for Vedic, Greek, 
Latin, Germanic etc, at a given date and then draw conclusions about 
retentions. This would of course be ideal! But he makes no similar 
suggestions for so many other AIT areas where arbitrary conjectures with 
hardly any evidence are rampant. For instance, archaeological evidences 
regarding identifications of ancient peoples, their movements and 
languages are very fragmentary and highly dubious. The fact that through 



116/ VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Here let me use an analogy. If one stands precisely on the 
North Pole of our planet, then one can only move southward: 
there is no other direction. But once a few steps south are 
taken, then one can move in many different directions. The 
simplistic formula “more distance, fewer retentions” does not 
hold. But, in the circumstances, the PP, exemplified in the 
Vedic tradition, does hold: most retentions, least or nil 
distance travelled. So, of course does the POC. 

Conclusion 

51. Here I rest. I have shown with a large number of 
lexical items that Sanskrit has many many more retentions of 
PIE than the other branches. This confirms what my earlier 
studies had already disclosed. There may be some errors or 
omissions in my examination of all these cognates but my 
survey of the Dictionaries and the comparative tables in 
various publications suggests that if I added more items the 
gap would widen in favour of Sanskrit. The difference 
between Sanskrit and the second and third branch is so great 
that it cannot be ascribed to chance, nor reasons like early 
literacy. The only plausible explanation for this that I can 
think of is a strong, systematic oral tradition. Such a tradition 
could not flourish nor be maintained by a people on the 
move. So the Indoaryans are indigenous, certainly at the 
beginning of the 5th millennium and possibly very much 


mechanical repetition these conjectural identifications are generally 
accepted (see, e.g. § 54, n 16!) means nothing in fact. Surely, here also the 
time-machine is necessary. 

Then there is the other grand conjecture taken as proven fact by 
indoeuropeanists and indologists of the AIT persuasion - the common or 
primitive Indo-Iranian period (§ 48). Apart from linguistic conjectures and 
theories of convenience there is not a scrap of evidence that the Indo- 
Iranians came as a unified (or closely related) people with a single or 
common culture from the Steppe, through the southern Urals to Persia and 
(the IndoAryans) to Saptasindhu. On the contrary, the actual linguistic 
evidence (not conjectural reconstructions) shows that the Iranians had lived 
in Saptasindhu and moved north-west. See § 54. 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 117 

before that. I have discussed at length many other aspects 
that support this conclusion in many publications since 1999. 

52. 1 should add two more arguments. They will not mean 
much to the prejudiced minds of mainstream scholars 
(indologists, indoeuropeanists, archeologists or whatever) but 
I think these details also add strength to the view against the 
invasion/immigration theory. I am referring to the absence of 
clear common cognates regarding military matters (see §43). 
This suggests to me that the PIEs were not at all bellicose 
(though dissensions and even fights should not be ruled out) 
- at least not as the IEs appear after dispersal in (proto-) 
historical times. This view is very different from that of other 
indoeuropeanists who saw war and weapons as an important 
aspect of PIE culture (e.g. Hencken 1955:44; Childe 1926: 
85). A relevant peaceful region for 6 millennia is the area in 
today’s Afghanistan where the culture of Mehrgarh 
developed and gradually spread south-eastward to 
Saptasindhu and became there the Indus-Sarasvati 
Civilization. Archaeologists specialising in the region like M 
Kenoyer, G.L. Possehl and J. Shaffer, have emphasized its 
unbroken continuity and its peaceful character - so much so 
that J R McIntosh termed her study of it A Peaceful Realm 
( 2002 ). 

53- Another argument comes from the field of religion. 
The Veda has more common IE theonyms than any other 
branch and fills lacunae in the other branches. V Agni, Ht 
Agnis, SI Ogon ; V Aryaman, Men Aremeine, C Ariomanus 
(and Eremon), Gm Irmin\ V Parjanya , SI Per unit, 
B Perkunas , Gm Fjorgyn ; V Dyaus , Ht D Siu , Gk Zeus , L 
Jupiter , Gm Tiwaz, SI divu V usas , Gk Eos , L Au[s]rora , Gm 
Eos-tra-, V Bhaga, SI Bogu , Phrygian Bagaios, Gk Phoibos 
(where S bh = Gk ph and S g= Gk b are frequent 
correspondences). These 6 correspondences show the 
situation adequately; in fact, only the Dyaus cognates are 
found in 6 branches. (For a full discussion of this matter see 
Kazanas 2006.) Moreover, as I have argued elsewhere 
following K Werner (1989), the all-inclusiveness of the RV 




118 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

(in contrast to the other branches which have only 
polytheism) contains also a kind of monotheism or monism 
(Kazanas 2001: 288-9): this universe with its multifarious 
manifestations came from an original unity ( RVX, 129) which 
is no different from the upanishadic Absolute: ‘It being One 
has variously become this All (and Everything) - ekam va 
idam v'l babhuva sarvam (VIII, 58, 2). Then, while wise 
poets speak of It, being One, in many ways and name It Agni, 
Indra, Yama etc (I 164, 6; X 114, 5), the different gods are 
gods by virtue of a single godhood or god-power, as the 
refrain in III 55 reminds us clearly: mahad devanam 
asuratvdm ekam ‘Single is the great god-power of the gods’. 
It was, I suspect, this religion, containing the One and the 
many as expressions of the One, as indicated in the RV, that 
was fragmented into the many different polytheist cultures of 
the Indo-Europeans after their dispersal. 15 

54. One may still entertain doubts about my thesis. But, 
while the Kurgan culture of the Steppes as the PIE source is a 
mere nebulous supposition, held on tiers of conjectures, no 
other early IE tradition contains so much evidence in its 
language and culture as to surpass the Indoaryan claims for the 
more faithful inheritance of the PIE civilization 16 . 

Another aspect mainstream indoeuropeanists and 
indologists (of the AIT persuasion) often stress is the common 


15 E. C. Polome made a survey of ‘Indo-European Religion and the indo- 
European Religious Vocabulary’ (1991) . In it he examined many studies on 
this subject by G. Dumezil, J. Gonda, P. Chantraine, H. Hubert, Gamkrelidze 
& Ivanov, et al, but could not come up with more than 3 or 4 sure cognate 
stems like those for faith, fire, and prayer, already examined in this paper. 

16 “Archaeologists have not in fact succeeded in locating the Indo- 
Europeans and prehistoric Eurasia offers an abundant choice of culture 
areas” (Watkins 2000: XXXIV). This factual statement is followed, as is usual 
with mainstream indoeuropeanists, by a long series of conjectures 
presented as historical facts identifying waves of Kurgan expansion as PIE 
movements, and then: “We must be content to recognize the Kurgan 
peoples as speakers of certain Indo-European languages and as sharing a 
common Indo-European patrimony. The ultimate ‘cradle’ of the Indo- 
Europeans may well never be known” (ibid XXXV). Why should we be 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 119 

Indo-Iranian period (§48 and n 15). This too is based on tiers 
of IEL conjectures. On the contrary, the actual linguistic 
evidence (not conjectural reconstructions) shows that the 
Iranians had lived in Saptasindhu and at some date moved 
away, north-westward. The Avesta, as has repeatedly been 
pointed out (e.g. Kazanas 2002), refers to a region formerly 
inhabited by the Iranians by the name HaptaHdndhu. Now 
this is as close to the Vedic Sapta-sindhavah 7 rivers’ as one 
can get - and there are many occurrences of this phrase in the 
RV{\. 32.12; 11.12.3; IV.28.1; VIII.24.27; etc). V sindhu is a 
common term for ‘river’ and for the river Sindhu which even 
Greeks named Indos\ but in Avestan ‘river’ is denoted by 
Qraotah- and ravau- (perhaps from the PIE root seen in S 
'Isru/sr, Gk rheo etc; VIII.301 in §11) thus it is not likely that 
the IAs left the Iranians taking with them this isolated name 
Hapta Hdndu which then they foisted onto the 7 rivers in 
Punjab and the second component onto the Indus itself. 
Rather, the Iranians left the region of the 7 rivers and held the 
name in their memory. Something very similar happens with 
the V river-name Sarasvati and Av Harahvaiti- Avestan has 
no other cogn with harah- whereas S has Isr > sarati/sisarti, 
sara.a, saras, sarit, etc, etc and of course cognates are found 
in other IE branches: (Kazanas 2003: §43e): here again it is 
the Iranians that took with them the memory of the Indie river 
and gave it to a river in their new habitat. Then, we have the 
alleged loans from the Finno-Ugrians: one of them is V chaga 
‘he-goat’. But it is curious that Avestan does not have this 
stem: its own stem for goat is only buza-. Are we to suppose 


content since there is a choice of other areas? Of course, since the Kurgan 
people had no writing we don't know what language(s) they spoke and, in 
any event, no indoeuropeanist has come up with any evidence of any 
people (Kurgan or other) moving into Saptasindhu after c4500! Thus 
Saptasindhu has as far as I am concerned the best claim so far - if not the 
only good one. But I am not certain and don’t press it though I shall 
continue to argue in its favour against the Steppe (which may have been a 
locus of secondary dispersal). 



120 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

that somehow the IAs, in departing from the Iranians, 
managed alone to retain apart from the alleged loanword 
chaga the words aja and eda ‘goat’ — cogn of course with Gk 
aix , Lith ozys and Arm aic and also the first component of Av 
iz-aena ‘leathery’, but that the Iranians, even though now 
settled, mysteriously lost these stems having only this 
biizaJ 17 Surely, here too the movement is the reverse - from 
Saptasindhu to Iran. Moreover, Vedic retains the PIE s but this 
becomes h in Avestan. All this actual linguistic evidence and 
the conclusion it forces upon us has some archaeological/ 
geographical support. G Gnoli, who is a normal AIT adherent 
and by no means an indigenist, showed very clearly that the 
early portions of the Avesta hardly know northern and 
western Iran and he analyses migrations there from south to 
north and east to west but not northwest down to south-east 
(1980). Thus while the conjectural Indo-Iranian movement 
south-eastward contains many anomalies, the Iranian 
movement from Saptasindhu north-westward accommodates 
all facts. 

Finally we must remember that, as Thomas Kuhn ably 
demonstrated (1970) and thus angered many scientists, 


17 Some connect this buza- with OE bucca (OHG boc) and C boc(e) : this 
surely is highly dubious. But in any event we must wonder at the 
disappearance of chaga from Av. There is also the stem kupa ‘hole, well’ 
(Burrow 1973: 27) which is not found in Av but retained by Vedic; this has 
cogns in other IE branches like Gk kupe ‘hole’, L cupa ‘cask’, Gm 
huf-r ‘ship’s hull’, etc. Whether the word came from Finno-Ugrian or PIE it 
is curious that Av lost it remaining with the non-IE and non F-U xau- and 
cat- for ‘well’; for the Indo-Iranians must have commonly used wells (and 
must have had ‘holes, pits’) in their common habitat before they Indoaryans 
moved onward. The S word kapha ‘phlegm (foam, froth)’ is found in Av as 
kafo (Persian Kafi and in various forms in F-U like hab , khowu etc (ibid). 
But the S salaka ‘splinter, twig’ (cf sala ‘staff’) has again cogns in F-U but is 
not found in Av (or Persian or other related language). These phenomena 
are unexplainable by ‘‘the common Indo-Iranian period” and travel south¬ 
east. On the contrary they can be explained quite rationally by the 
movement of Aryans away from Saptasindhu first to Iran and thence to the 
Urals (and further West). 



COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 121 

mainstream (‘orthodox’ or ‘normal’) doctrines forming the 
prevalent ‘paradigm’ have philosophical and/or 
psychological constituents as well; therefore scholars, who 
usually like to think of themselves as reasonable people and 
authorities in their fields, resist, ignore or cover up anomalies 
that undermine the mainstream doctrines and act almost 
invariably so as to preserve the paradigm within which they 
operate. The classic example is found in the l6th and 17th 
mainstream scholars who not merely resisted the Copernical 
heliocentric model of our solar system while themselves 
adhered to Ptolemy’s geocentric model, but actually 
persecuted their opponents - Bruno, Kepler, Galileo (Cohen 
2001; Kuhn 1970; Koestler 1964). The partly self¬ 
contradictory remarks of C. Watkins in n 15 demonstrate this 
in the IE field; also J. V. Day promotes the ‘Kurgans’ even 
though in his voluminous study he states that “the ancient 
cranioskeletelal evidence in Europe for expansion by Kurgan 
groups is surprisingly meagre in places” (2001: 317; 
emphasis added). I should refer also to the field of biological 
sciences and the enormous resistance mainstreamers display 
against new ideas. It is not only philosophical and 
psychological elements (=prejudices) that engender this 
resistance but also threats to one’s reputation, scrambling for 
position in the hierarchy or posts prestigious and 
remunerative, access to funds and the like (Pert 2002: 73, 
161-2, etc; Dembski 1998: passiirt). 

In Indology and Indoeuropean studies the received 
doctrine has for over a century been the Aryan Invasion/ 
Immigration Theory while the IE diffusion spreads from the 
Pontic Steppe. On this, Edmund Leach, Master of King’s 
College, wrote that after the discovery of the Indus-Sarasvati 
Civilization, indoeuropeanists should have scrapped their 
theories and linguistic reconstructions “and started again from 
scratch. But this is not what happened. Vested interests and 
academic posts were involved” (1990). This may sound harsh 
but prejudice and self-interest still continue today and are no 
less rampant in the humanities than in the sciences. 


122 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Appendix 

In the Table of Vedic and IE theonyms, the 20 Vedic names 
are put on the left and the others on the right for the simple and 
almost incredible reason that the Vedic tradition has all these 
theonyms but every other branch has only few of them; 
consequently if we were to start with, say, Ht, we would very 
soon have to change to another branch, say, Greek and then, 
Gm, and so on. In fact no two other traditions (Gk, Gm, L etc) 
have a common theonym to the exclusion of the RV. The only 
exception - and this a highly dubious one - is the Roman 
goddess Iuventas and the Irish Oeagus, according to Dumezil 
from PIE *yuwi}ko (Littleton 1973: 6l, 93). This is so tenuous that 
I don’t include it. One can prove many things with untestable 
reconstructions like this one. Moreover, the two branches, Latin 
and Celtic, are thought to have been one, or very closely 
contiguous, and so the two names, if indeed they are cognates, 
need not be inherited but an intra-familial loan, as Bloomfield 
would argue for such branches (1933: 350-60). 

On the right, on the top line are the cognate names. On the 
line(s) below are cogn nouns in branches that do not have the 
corresponding deity. This shows that the particular branch(es) 
suffered a loss in their religion. E.g. the IE theonym for a Horse- 
deity (S Asvin, Men Iqe-ja, C Epo-na ) does not appear in most 
branches yet these do have the IE stem for ‘horse’: Gk hippo/ 
ikko-, L equus, C ech, Gm eoh. B esva (and SI kon-ji which is not 
IE but, though unrelated, does indicate a further loss). 

With the theonyms I follow the English alphabetic sequence 
since this is common. Only Apam Napat is placed in apparently 
wrong place, but only because the cognates are in connexion 
with Napat not Apam. The S r is given as E r. With the branches 
themselves, I start with India and move westward: S, Ht, Ks, Mt, 
Gk, L, SI, B, Gm, C. Tocharian, Arm and Alb contain negligible 
material. 


COHERENCE AND PRESERVATION IN SANSKRIT / 123 


The Table. 

Agni: 


Aryanum : 


Asvin: 


Bhaga 

Brhaddiva 
Dyaus : 

Indra 

Marut-as 

Manu : 


Ht /turn's; SI Ogorz. 

L zgnz's, Lith wgmk, Ltt uguns (Note: 
even the Iranians who had Fire- 
worship did not preserve this name, 
not even as a demon like Indra, Sauru 
etc, though the stem appears in the 
name dasicr/ni). Ht ‘fire’ pahhur. 

Men Are-mene ; Gk A re-s ; C 
Ariomanus (Gaul) / Eremon (Ir); Sc 
Irmin. 

The ar-stem in most IE languages 
‘move, rise, stir’. 

Men Iqeja (horse-deity); C Epona 
(Gaul); 

Gk hippos , (Men iqo, dialect ik.kos), L 
equus, OE and Ir eoh, B esva, all 
‘horse’. 

Ks Bugas-, Phrygian Bagaios (Zeus, 
Gk); Gk Phoibos ; SI Bbgu. 

C Briganti(a), later St Brighidi Ir). 
Hittite D Siu-s ; Gk Zeus/Dia-\ L 
Julslpiter, Gm liwaz, Rs DivuQ). Lith 
dievas (usually ‘god’ cognate with S 
deva, div). 

Ht Inar(a)\ Mt Indara-, Ks Indas-, C 
Andrasta/Andarta. 

Gk arier/andr--, Av indra (a demon). 
Ks Maruttas ; L Mars ; C Morrighan 
(Ir). The stem mar/mor/mer- ‘shine’ 
etc is common in all IE branches. 

Gm Mannus (in Tacitus Germania 
2), father of the Gm people, like the 
V semi-divine figure who was 
regarded as the father of mankind. 



124 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


Mitra : 


Apam-Napat ■. 


Parjanya : 


Rbhu : 


Saranyu : 

Surya : 

Tvastr ■. 
Usas : 

Vamna : 


Vastos-pati: 


Yama ■. 


Av Midra ; Mt Mitrasil. 

Gk ‘band for chest or, mainly, 
hair’ (> E mhn? ‘bishop’s pointed 
headlgear’). 

Roman Neptunus ; C Nech-tan (Ir); 
Gm (ON) ssevar nidr 'kin of water 
(=fire) ’! 

Gk a-nep-sios, L- nep-\ OHG nevo, 
OE nefa, OLith nep- etc ‘nephew, 
cousin’. 

SI Perunu ; B Perkunas (and 
variants); Sc Fjorgyn (- n , Thor’s 
mother). L spargo ‘throw about, 
besprinkle’, C eira ‘snow’. 

Gk Orpheus; Gm Elf (and variants). 
Gth arb-aifcs-, SI rabu, Rs rabota 
‘work’ ; L orbu (S arbha, Gk 
opcpavos) ‘deprived’ etc 
Men & Gk Erinus, Helene. 

L salio ‘leap’, salax ‘fond of 
leaping’; Toch B salate ‘leaps’. 

Ks Surias ; Gk Helios ; L Sol ; B 
Saule. Gth savil, ON sol, W haul, SI 
slunice, Rs solnce. 

Gm Twisto (Sc). 

Gk Eos ; L Au[s]rora ; Gm Eostre. 
Lith ausra, Ltt ausma, C gwawr, etc. 
Mt Uruwna ; Gk Ouranos-, B Velinas 
((and cf jur- = sea). L urina , ON ver 
(=sea). 

Gk Hestia ; L Vesta. 

Gth wisan ‘to stay’; OHG wist 
‘inhabiting’; Toch A/B wast/ost 
‘house’. 

Sc Ymir. 

L gemi-nus ‘twin’; Gk zemia 
‘damage’, Av yam, Yima. 


3 . Rigvedic All-comprehensiveness 


Abstract 

The Rgveda contains and seems to preserve more common 
elements from the Proto-Indo-European Culture than any other 
branch of the family. This essay examines various points of 
language, poetry and philosophy but it focuses mainly on 
grammatical elements, lexical and syntactical, and on aspects of 
(fine) poetry. This is one aspect showing that Vedic and its culture 
is much closer to the PIE language and culture. Moreover, it shows 
that it is most unlikely that Vedic moved across thousands of miles 
over difficult terrains to come to rest in what is today N-W India and 
Pakistan, in Saptasindhu or the Land of the Seven Rivers. Certain 
other aspects show that Iranian moved away from Vedic and 
Saptasindhu and most probably the other branches did the same at 
a very distant but undetermined period. Finally, monotheism is 
also a notable feature in the i?Vdespite its pronounced polytheism. 

1. Max Muller wrote early on: 

“[A]s in his language and in his grammar [the Indian] has preserved 
something of what seems peculiar to each of the northern [Indo- 
european] dialects singly, as he agrees with the Greek and the 
German where the Greek and the German seem to differ from all 
the rest... no other language has earned off so large a share of 
the common Aiyan heirloom - whether roots, grammar, words, 
myths or legends” (1859:14 square brackets and italics added). 

In other words, the Vedic culture preserves more 
elements of the IE (=Indo-european) heritage than any other 
extant IE branch. 

Let us start with some common IE names of deities. 


126 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


2. Theonyms: names of deities in the RV and other 
branches. 

There are more than 20 such theonyms in the RV alone 
(Kazanas 2009c: ch3). Here we shall look at 6 of them only: 
Agni, Aryaman, Dyaus, (Apam-)Napat, Surya, Usas. 

Agnl : Hit Agnis ; SI Ogon/Ogun. 


Aryaman : 

Lat ignis, Lith ugnis, Lett uguns - all ‘fire’. 
Iranians had as demons Indra, Saurva but, 
despite their fire worship, preserved only 
in proper name Dast-ayni. For ‘fire’ Ht has 
pahhur, Gk pur- and Gm fyr- and variants; 
so it would have been more natural for 
Hittite to have a fire-god whose name was 
related to pahhur ! (Note: Av = Avestan = 
Old Iranian; Lithuanian & Lettish = Baltic; 
SI = Slavic, i.e. Old Bulgarian, Russian etc.) 
Av Airyaman; Myc Areimene (Gk Are-s ?); 
Celt Ariomanus (Gaul), Eramon (Ireland); 
Germanic Innin. 

The stem ar-/or- ‘move, rise’ in most IE 
branches: Gk or-numi ‘rise’, Lat orior, Gm 

Dyaus : 

rinn- ‘run’; Arm y-ar-ne ‘rise’; etc . 

Hit D-Siu-s ; Gk Zeus/Difzi-; Lat Ju[s]-pitar 
Iov-; Gm Tiwaz; Rus DivuiJ); Av dyaos. 


Apam-Ndpat : Av Apam-Napa; Lat Nept-unus; Irish 
Necht an (-^-changes to other consonants). 


Surya : 

Kassites Surias ; Gk Heli(F)os-, Lat Sol; 
Gm savil/sol; Welsh saul; Slavic slunice/ 
solnce. all ‘sun’. 

Usds : 

Gk Eds ; Lat Au[s]-rora ; Gm Eos-tre. 
Av usah -; Lith ausra, Lett ausma; Celtic 
gwaur; etc. 


RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 127 


Vedic 6; Greek 4; Latin 4; Germanic 3; Hittite 2; 
Slavic 2; Celtic (Irish, Welsh, Gallic) 2. 

(Note, the RV is considerably smaller than the Greek 
corpus consisting of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschulos, Pindar and 
so on.) 

But, moreover, the stem for the natural phenomenon 
‘fire’ does exist in some of them, like ignis in Latin, uguns/ 
ugnis in Baltic; or the ‘sun’ in Gm savil/sol, Celtic saul, Slavic 
solnce; and so on. Clearly, the other branches lost the 
theonyms. And no two branches have a theonym in common 
to the exclusion of the RV\ Note also an additional feature 
connected with the Sungod. In Greek Helios is masculine and 
has retained the gender to modern times. In Germanic the 
sun acquired the feminine gender and is now die Sonne. 
Vedic had both: Surya was the male Sungod and Surya the 
divine Sunmaiden who accompanied the twin Asvins, the 
Horsegods of the twilight. 

3. Poetic Art. 

Germanic had alliterative poetry. E.g. in Modern English 
Roll on, roll on you restless waves where the r repeats; or 
Do not go gentle into the good night where the g repeats. If 
all would lead their lives in love like me where the / repeats. 

Greek had strict metrical structure. Homer’s heroic 
hexameter in his epics and others with variants of iambic, 
dactylic, trochaic metre etc - but not alliteration. 

pan tas gar phi le es ken ho doi e pi oi ki a nai on 

- -| - U o U| - - “I UU | - U U | — 

‘he entertained all living in a house on the high road’: 

Homer: Iliad 6, 15 (no alliteration). 

bos min xei non e on ta ka te kta nen hoi e ni oi koi 

“i _ u u r u “I ” u M " ° u I ~ ‘ 

‘he killed him who was a guest in his house’: 

Odyssey 21.27 (same as above) strict metre only. 

In Germanic poetry we find the opposite: alliterative 


128 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

verses but no strict metre. Take an e-xample from The 
Seafarer 44-45, an Old English poem: 

Ne bip him to hearpan hyge ne to h ring\>ege, 
ne to wife wyn ne to w orulde hyht... 

‘His thought is not for the harp nor the receiving 
of rings, nor joy in a woman nor pleasure in the world’. 
Modern English verse has metre and alliteration: 

If all would lead their lives in love like me : 

— x | — x | — x | — x | — x | 

This is the Iambic pentameter with stress, which 
substitutes the length of vowels. 

Vedic has both alliteration and fairly strict metre: e.g. 
from RV 6.47.29, with Tristubh structure, i.e. eleven 
syllables and strict cadence ~ u ~ - . 

sd dundubhe sajur indrena devair 

durad daviyo apa sedha satrun 

‘O drum, along with Indra and the gods, do 
drive our foes to farthest distance’. 

It has both alliteration and the fairly strict metre of 
Trstubh with 11 syllables in each quarter of the stanza and 
also assonance (u,u,u,e,e,e;a,a,a,a,a,a.) 

Riddles are found in all traditions, all nations. Here are 
two from RV 8.29.5,7: 

tigmam eko bibharti hdsta ayudham 
sucir ugrd jalasabhesajah: 

‘One, bright [and] fierce, with cooling remedies, 
carries in his hand a sharp weapon’. ( jalasabhesajah) 
trtny-eka urugayo vicakrame 


RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 129 


yatra devdso madanti: 

‘One, far-going has made three strides 
to where the gods rejoice’. ( urugayah ) 

The two clues signal Rudra and Visnu respectively. 

I close this section with the words of Calvert Watkins: 
“The language of India from its earliest documentation in the 
Rgveda has raised the art of the poetic figure to what many 
would consider its highest form” (2001: 109). 

One of many splendid stanzas: 3-54.8 

visved ete janima samvivikto 
maho devan bibhrati nd vyathete; 
ejad dhruvam patyate vlsvam ekam 
carat patatr visunam v'ljdtdm. 

‘The two truly encompass ( sam-) and sift all births/ 
beings, bearing the mighty devas, yet do not stagger. Moving 
yet fixed, the One governs the whole, what walks and flies- 
the manifold manifest creation.’ 

Apart from alliteration and rich assonance with vi 
especially, note that the neuter gender affords multiple 
interpretations ( visvam ekam). Or take 4.40.5: 

hamsah sucisdd vasur antariksasdd dbota vedisad atithir 
duronasdt; 

nrsdd varasdd rtasdd vyomasad abjd gojd rtajd adrija 
rtam. 

‘The swan in the clear brightness, the Vasu in midsky, 
the summoner at the altar, the guest in the house; what is 
in men, what is in excellence, what is in Natural Order, 
what is in heaven; what are born of Waters, of light, of 
Cosmic Order, of the Unbreakable - that is the Law’. 

Here the art is based on the repetition of -sad ‘being, 
dwelling, sitting in’ and -ja ‘born of’. In the first two padas 
we see a descent from the brightness of the sky down to 
a house; then in each of the other two we see an ascent. 
Of course go commonly means ‘cow’ but often denotes ‘light’ 



130 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

and this must be the sense here; similarly ddri- usually means 
‘rock, stone, mountain’ even ‘cloud, lightning’ but the basic 
sense is ‘unbreakable’ (probably from a form of V df 
breaking (through), piercing’ and the negative d-'). Natural 
Law shapes and runs through all phenomena and this alone 
has permanence - it is implied - whereas all else is like a 
passing guest. 

There are many other passages I can cite, like 2.21.1 
where we find the repetition of-jite or 10.67.13 with repetition 
of svasti etc. We find also all figures of speech that form fine 
poetry from atisayokti ‘hyperbole’ (eg 3.55.7 etc) and upama 
‘comparison (simile)’ (with iva, na, etc) to yamaka 
‘assonance, paronomasia’ (4.1.2 etc) and slesa ‘harmony, 
pun’ (6.75.17 etc) but discussing them would lengthen this 
essay unnecessarily. The words of Watkins should suffice. 

4. Grammar. 

Sanskrit, according to Burrow is “more readily 
analysable, and its roots [=dhatu] more easily separable from 
accretionary elements than is the case with any other IE 
language” (1973: 289). Indeed, consider how from simple 
dbatus, that are also nominal stems, arise nouns and 
adjectives and verbs in tenses and moods. Or as Elizarenkova 
put it, “the verb-root is basic to both inflexion and derivation 
... it is irrelevant that for some roots such nouns are not 
attested" (1995: 50) - except that simple “seedform” would 
be better translations for dhatu. 

a) Dhatu or root-form and derivatives. 

"Hcit ‘perceiving, being conscious of’ > cit adj ‘one 
cognizant, perceiving’ or (0 ‘awareness, cognizance, 
perception’; ‘citt ‘understanding’, citrd ‘bright, excellent, 
variegated’, cetas ‘splendour, intelligence’ caitanya 
‘consciousness’; verb forms - cetati, citta, ciketa, dcait etc etc, 
where the principal or vowel gradation (i>e>ai) unfolds in 


RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 131 


regular order. We could take also V ad ‘eating’, yis ‘ruling’, 
Vrc ‘praising, reciting’, ykrudb ‘anger’, V/nd ‘knowing’ etc 
etc. But compare S hu and Greek cheo. 

S Abu ‘sacrificing, pouring into fire’ > verb and noun 
forms ju-hu-ati, buta, hotum, hotr, homa, dbausit - etc, etc, 
where the principle of vowel gradation ( u>o/au ) unfolds 
regularly and beautifully. Now compare this with the chaos 
in - 

Greek che-o ‘I pour’ : che-u-ma ‘flow, stream’; chu-ma 
‘fluid’; 

cbo-e ‘libation, pouring’; chou-s ‘earth, soil’: 
root? che-, cho-, chu- (=S hu>juh6ti)P 
Or compare another probable pair of cognations: - 

Sanskrit -.ydbr > dharisyate, dadhre, dhrtva, dhrti, 
dhara, dhartr , dbarnast, dbarma-, 
dbara, dharana etc. 

Greek : tbranlo ‘stool’, thronos ‘throne’, with vowels 
a, o but no root or verb. 

b) Negation & prohibition. 

Some IE branches have na/ne/no for ‘do/must not’ (e.g. 
Latin, Celtic, Slavic, Germanic). 

Some have rndymi/me (e.g. Tocharian, Armenian, Greek). 

Sanskrit and Avestan have both na and md. 

c) The Augment in past tenses. 

Armenian had it (with initial consonant in monosyllabic 
stems only) and Greek had it: e.g. Arm e-likh ‘left’, Gk e-lipe 
‘left’. On the other hand Hittite (dais ‘he set’), Gothic and 
Old English band ‘one bound’) and others did not have it. 

Vedic has both forms : abbet/bbet ‘one feared", adur/ 
dur ’they gave’ etc. However, it should be mentioned that 
Homeric Greek has some unaugmented forms (e.g. 
pbileesken in § 3 above) and so does the older Mycenaean 
language. 


132 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


d) Perfect. 

Some branches did not have one (Toch, Arm). 

a) Reduplicated perf: Av ta-tas-a ‘has fashioned’; Gk de- 
dor k-a ‘I have seen’; Gm hait-hait ‘has been named’ 

b) Simple perf: Av vaeda , Gm wait ‘has known’; 

Lat gnov-it ‘has learnt, knows’ (=S jha) etc. 

c) Periphrastic perf: (f form of) main verb + auxiliary 
verb - as in Engl ‘ have’ aux + ‘gone’ main. 

Ht: markan (main) + harteni (aux) ‘cut you have’. 
Vedic and Avestan have all three perfect forms. 

e) Significant difference between Vedic and 
Avestan. 

Vedic redupl : ta-taksa ‘has fashioned’, da-darsa ‘has 
seen’; Av tatasa-, 

simple : veda ‘has known, knows’; Av vae8a\ 
periphr : gamayam cakara ‘has caused someone to go’ 
(AV 18.27.2); 

mantrayam asa (Brdhmanas etc) ‘has advised’: i.e. main 
verb, f acc sing + auxiliary kr- ‘do’, as- ‘be’. BUT in this 
form - 

Av has only with ah- (=S as-) ‘be’: astara yeintim + 
ah- ‘must have corrupted’. 

Since Av has only verb + aux ah-, this indicates that Av 
separated from Vedic after Vedic developed as- as auxiliary. 
Otherwise Vedic would have aux as- first! Let us see. 

Mainstream doctrine teaches that original homeland of 
IEs is the Pontic (South Russian) Steppe, just above the Black 
Sea. But the direction of movement should be reversed. 


RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 133 



According to the mainstream Doctrine (the Aryan 
Invasion/Immigration Theory, actually), the Indo-Iranians 
formed one unified people then and moved to Iran passing 
from the Urals. Then the Indoaryans left the common Iranian 
homeland and moved into Saptasindhu cl500 BCE. (For a 
detailed discussion, see Bryant 2001.) But if this is true, then 
they should have had developed first the periphrastic 
perfect with auxiliary verb as- ‘to be’ like the Iranians, and 
afterwards the aux kr- This evidence shows that first they 
developed main verb + auxiliary kr- in Atharva Veda 
and long afterwards main verb + aux as- in the Brahmanas. 
Since the Vedics and Iranians are supposed to have been 
together and since they certainly appear to share so many 
features in common, this means that they, the Iranians, left 
the common fold, not the IAs (Indo-aryans)! 




134 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


Avestan & Sanskrit common features. 


noun 


Avestan 
prohibitive ma 
perfect ta-tasa 

vaeSa 

noun haoma 

ahura 


Sanskrit 

ma 

ta-taksa 

veda 

soma 

asura 


‘must not’; 

‘has fashioned’; 

‘has known, knows’; 
‘sacrificial drink’; 

‘lord’ (later S ‘demon’); 


country Haptahdndu Saptasindhu ‘land of 7 rivers’ 

Now consider -hdndu and -sindhu. 

In Sanskrit the word sindhu has several related words: 
e.g. compounds sindhu-ksit, sindhu-ja, sindhu-pati etc and 
derivatives like saindhava, and so on. It is thought to derive 
from the root syand ‘flowing’ or sidh ‘reaching, having 
success’. In Avestan -hdndu stands isolated, and the word for 
river is commonly Praotah (=S srotas) and raodah. This again 
is indicative of the Iranians moving away from the IAs and 
taking with them the memory that they had lived in a region 
with Seven Rivers. This was spotted even as early as Max 
Muller: “Zoroastrians were a colony from Northern 
India...[who] migrated westward to Arachosia and Persia” 
(1875:248) 1 . 

I discuss this issue very extensively with much more 
evidence in ‘Vedic and Avestan’ (Kazanas 2011). 

5. There is additional evidence to support the movement Out 
of India. 

First, archaeologists like B.&R. Allchin (1997), Cakrabarti 
(1999), Kennedy (1995), M. Kenoyer (1998), Lai (2009 & 
1984), Gupta 0984), Schaffer (1995 & 1999) and 
Lichtenstein (1999), McIntosh (2002), G. Possehl (2003) and 
all other experts in that area, find no evidence at all of any 


1 Muller did make several blunders, of course, in having the Aryans 
invade India and in assigning the RV cl200 - something which he 
repudiated later giving dates as early as 3000 and even 3000 BCE. 



RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 135 

entry and certainly no invasion (Dales 1966! and many others 
thereafter) into Saptasindhu. The culture they unearthed 
there known as the Indus-Sarasvati (or Indus Valley or 
Harappan), is a native one with unbroken continuity from the 
seventh millennium down to 600 BCE. Then, geneticists 
(e.g. Sahoo et al 2006) now find that the genes spread out of 
India both to the northwest and southeast. 

Second, there is the literary evidence of the Indie texts: - 

RV 4.1.3 & 7.76.4 say that 

“We and our ancestors have always been here [in 
Saptasindhu]” - the Ahgiras and Vasistha families. 

Also RV 5.10.6 says 

“Our sages should pervade all regions (visva asas 
tarisdni)” and “Aryan laws be diffused over the earth” in 
10.65.11. 

Thus they spread in all directions. 

6.61.9,12 says that Sarasvatl has spread us all (ie. the five 
tribes, Anus etc) beyond the Seven sister-rivers. 



Figure 2. Map of North India showing Sarasvatl 
and the five Vedic tribes. 










136 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Baudhayana’s SrautaSutra 18.1-4 mentions two 
migrations: one eastward, the Ayava; one westward, the 
Amavasa producing the Gandharis, Parsus (=Persians) and 
Arattas (=of Urartu and/or Ararat on the Caucausus). 



Figure 3. Map showing the “seven rivers”and Sarasvati; 
various sites with Harappan artefacts far from Saptasindhu; 
also the two movements eastward by Ayu 
and westward by Amavasu. 

Back in 1997- Johanna Nichols calculated on linguistic 
grounds that the area of dispersal of IE branches was Bactria. 
As we saw this was part of the greater Saptasindhu after 




RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 137 


the Aryan tribes, mainly Anus and Druhyus, spread 
Westward. Now, back to the Rigvedic all-inclusiveness. 

6. Eight words of closest human relations. 

1. brother : S bhrdtr, Av bratar-; Toch pracar; Arm 
elbayr; Gk phrater; It frater, Celt brathir; Gm brodar; 
SI bratrb ; Lith broter-; Not Hit. (Note: It = Italic, mostly 
Latin.) 

2. daughter : S duhitf; Av dug d dar-/duydar-; Toch ckacar, 
Arm dustr; G thugater ; It futir; Gm dauhtar ; Lith dukte 
SI dbsti. Not Hit, Celt. 

3. father : S pitf ; Av pitar/(p)tar-; Toch pacar; Arm hair; 
Gk pater ; It pater; Celt athir ; Gm fadar. Not Baltic (=Lith 
or Lett), SI, Ht. 

4. husband, lord : S pati ; Av paHis; Toch pats; Gk posis ; 
It potis (=capable); Gm -fap(s); Lith pats/patis; SI -podb. Not 

Arm, Celt, Hit (but Hit pat - ‘just’). 

5. mother : S mdtf; Av matar-; Toch mdcar; Ann mair; 
G meter; It mater; Celt mathir; Gm modor; SI mati., Not Hit; 
Lith mote ‘wife’. 

6. sister : S svasr; Av x^'anhar; Toch sar; Arm k'oir; 
It soror; Celt siur; Gm swister; Lith sesuo; SI sestra. 

Not Hit; Gk eor ‘daughter’. 

7. son : S sunu ; Av humus; Gm sunus; Lith sunus ; 
SI synb, Not Toch, Ht, Arm, G (hui-os 'O, It, Celt. 

8. wife/mistress : S pdtni; Av padni; G potnia; Lith 
-patni. Not Toch, Arm, Hit, It, Celt, Gm, Si. 

Only S & Av have them all. Hit has none! Yet 
comparativists persist in calling Hittite the most archaic IE 
tongue! How is it possible not to have even one of these 
nouns for the most common of human relations yet be the 
most archaic IE tongue? Why would all the others innovate 


138 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

suddenly? (One Anatolian language does have a cognate for 
“sister”. This is not of help to Hittite.) 

7. Philosophy: One and Many. 

For last, but certainly not least, I have left a philosophical 
subject. There are many more issues: cosmogony and 
anthropogony, reincarnation, ethics and the like. But 
consideration of all these issues would take much much 
longer. So let us look at only one more aspect. There are 
many cosmogonies in the 7?Bbut underlying them all is the 
idea of One from which arise the Many. Obviously there is 
polytheism with many gods; also henotheism, as one clan or 
family gotra worships a particular deity and ascribes to him 
(or her, in the case of Aditi or Jndna/\ T ac) the emergence of 
the creation. But there are also several references to the One 
from which all deities arise: so there is also monotheism or 
the one Absolute. 

Summary. 

Polytheism -. many deities as in all other IE branches. 

Henotheism-. one clan worships a particular deity and this 
is said to be the best (and creator). 

Monotheism-, all deities, all worlds, all creatures come 
from One, which remains unmanifest. 

Deities have divinity only by partaking of the power of the 
One. 

mahad devanam asuratvam ekam 3.55: ‘single and great 
is the high-lord-power of the gods’ (in which they partake to 
be gods or asuras). 

1.164.6: ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti (also 
10.114.5): ‘it is One but the sages call it by many 
expressions.’ 

10.90 : everything is produced from Purusa’s parts. 

10.129 Nasadiya: anid avatam svadhayatad ekam -. ‘that 
One breathed without air of its own. 


RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 139 

8.58.2 ekam va idam vibabhuva sawam. ‘Being One it 
became all’. 

3-54.8 ejad dhruvam patyate ekam 
visvam, carat patatrvisunam injatam. 

‘Moving yet unmoving the One 
rules the whole, what walks and 
flies, all this manifest multiplicity’. 

8. Obviously, when the IE speakers that emerge from the 
mists of pre-historic Europe and come to be known as 
Greeks, Germans, Celts etc, they are barbarians, fond of war, 
pillage and conquest. The RV also speaks frequently of war 
and battles. Here the weapon of victory is more often than 
not brahman, the mystic power inherent in ritual and prayer, 
an inner force of the spirit or “silent meditation” as Puhvel 
calls it (1989: 153) in referring to sage Atri’s rehabilitation of 
the sun (RV 5, 40,6). This is the power used by the sage 
Vasistha when helping King Sudas defeat his numerous 
enemies (/?V7,33) and, of course, by the Rbhus when 
accomplishing the wondrous deeds that earned them 
godhood. And hymn 6,75,19 says “My closest/inner armour 
is brahma” (=this same mystic power). This very word 
brahman becomes, not without good reason, the name of the 
Absolute in post-Rgvedic literature, mainly the Upanishads. 
Yet, the Absolute is not entirely absent from the RV, as Keith 
observed: “...India developed the conception of a power 
common to the various gods ... just as the unity of the gods 
even by the time of certain Rigvedic hymns” (1925: 446). 

Hymn RV 10,90, shows how creatures and world- 
elements are produced from different parts of the Purusa, the 
primordial Man: thus multiplicity comes from unity. Moreso, 
the nasadiya hymn 10,129, describes the evolution of the 
whole creation including the gods from the One ekam. 
Taking cosmogonic myths from Iran, Greece, Rome and/or 
North Europe, some scholars rightly state that the creation 
arises from two primordial elements, “the action of heat on 


140 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

water”, and that this “reflects a multi-layered dualism that 
pervades Indo-European myth and religion” (Stone 1997, 
ch 5; see also Puhvel 1989: 277). But in the RV Creation 
Hymn 10,129, it is out of the One alone, breathing without air, 
of Its own power ( dnid avatam svadhaya tad ekarri), that 
arose all else; only in the third stanza appears salilam 
(water?) and tapas (heat?) 2 within tamas ‘darkness’, within 
tuchya ‘void’; and then follows one existence, desire and so 
on. Here at least it is the Unity that is the basic primordial 
substratum. This is no different from the Absolute of the 
Upanishads. And this we meet in other hymns also. RV 8,58,2 
says ekam vd idam. vi babhuva sarvam ‘It being One has 
variously (uf) become this All (and Everything)’. Hymns 
1,164,6 and 10,114,5, say that the wise poets speak of It, 
being One, in many ways/forms - naming it Agni, Yama, 
Indra, etc. Utilizing different material in the Rgveda, K 
Werner makes the same point (1989). 

This notion of a Single One, of which all divine and 
mundane phenomena are manifestations, is absent from all 
other IE branches. Thus the Vedic Aryas, far from being 
bloodthirsty or primitive barbarians deifying out of fear 
natural phenomena like the storm or the fire, would seem to 
belong among the most highly cultured people on earth with 
a culture that consisted not so much of material artifacts as of 
inner spiritual power. 

9. Conclusion 

I have not spoken explicitly of the origins of Indian 
Civilization. It should be obvious, however, that I regard the 
rise of the Vedic Culture as indigenous and not the result of 
an (Aryan or proto-Indo-European) invasion or immigration. 


2 I put question-marks because I feel certain, against the received notions, 
that salila here does not mean ‘water’ but ‘flux (of energy)’ generally and 
tapas ‘power of transformation’ - as I argue in my 2009 (pp 86-7 and note 
1; or ch 2, § 11). I repeat here that there is still nothing material in this third 
stanza within ‘darkness’ tamas and ‘void’ tuchya. 



RIGVEDIC ALL-COMPREHENSIVENESS / 141 


I cannot speak of the origin of this Civilization because 
I do not know it. And I don’t think anybody else does. 
Of course, as is usual, there are many theories and many 
publications. Archaeologists and anthropologists tell us of an 
unbroken continuity in the remains excavated in 
Saptasindhu. This seems to start at the beginning of the 
seventh millennium BCE. But these are the grossest 
indications in stone, wood, mud and bricks. They certainly 
bespeak of a civilizations but do not tell us very much. To my 
mind a civilization is a condition of society and an inner state 
of man which promotes civility, consideration for others, 
honesty, justice, liberality, unity with the creation and the 
Creator and a general nobility as close to absolute goodness 
as possible. (For a discussion of different views on 
civilization see Kazanas & Klostermaier 2011.) These 
qualities of civilizations are found, I believe, in the Rgveda 
and are spelled out explicitly and repeatedly in the various 
post-rigvedic texts. Some of the motifs of the RV have been 
described adequately in this paper. 

No, I do not know much about the origin of Indie 
civilization because, having its start in remote prehistory, it is 
not so evident. But one literary jewel of the Vedic Culture, 
the Bhagavad Gita , says urdhvamulam adhasakham (15.1): 
creation has its roots high in heaven and its boughs and 
leaves here below. I would think the same applies to the 
Indie Civilization. 


4 . Vedic and Avestan 


0. Abstract. 

In this essay I examine independent linguistic evidence, 
often provided by iranianists like R. Beekes, and arrive at the 
conclusion that the Avesta, even its older parts (the gddds), is 
much later than the Rgveda. Also, of course, that Vedic is 
more archaic than Avestan and that it was not the Indoaryans 
who moved away from the common Indo-Iranian habitat into 
the Region of the Seven Rivers, but the Iranians broke off 
and eventually settled and spread in ancient Iran. 

Avestan alleged to be older than Vedic. 

1. R. Schmitt published a paper in which he shows that 
Vedic (or Old Indo-Aryan) has innovations against Avestan 
(or Iranian) archaisms, that it is “not identical with Proto-Indo- 
Iranian and is not so close to PIE (=Proto-Indo-European) as 
many people maintain” (2009:21). He examines and 
contrasts analytically more than thirty pairs of cognates in the 
two languages and, of course, finds that the Avestan forms 
are more archaic than the corresponding Vedic ones, which 
are for the most part “of secondary character” (pp 15, 16). He 
does admit that often it is “quite difficult to decide whether 
we have to do with an inherited form, with an archaism or an 
innovation” and adds that the Avestan script “is more 
obscuring than inspiring” and so increases the difficulties 
(20). Nonetheless, he presents some cases where, he claims, 
the Vedic innovations are “irreversible” (6). On the basis of 
his analytical comparisons he concludes not only that Vedic 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 143 


is not the most archaic of the IE branches but also that “the 
Indo-Aryan language and culture must have immigrated into 
India and do not originate there” (6-7). 

I am sure we are all very grateful for Schmitt’s 
presentation but his last conclusion does not follow from his 
analyses and it is certainly wrong. Even in the 19th century, 
despite his blunders in giving such late dates for the Vedic 
literature as 1200 and 800 BCE (blunders which he later 
repudiated assigning the Rgveda to 3000 and even 5000 
BCE), Max Muller spotted that “the Zoroastrians [=Iranians] 
were a colony from Northern India ... [who] migrated 
westward to Arachosia and Persia” (1875: 248; brackets 
added). Now, Schmitt’s contention is in conformity with the 
mainstream linguistic Doctrine, against all archaeological, 
anthropological, genetic, and literary evidences, but like the 
“invasion” of old this is utterly wrong. Many other IE (=Indo- 
European) branches are said to have archaisms and this is 
surely true; but this ipso facto does not on the whole make 
them more faithful or closer to the PIE and thus more archaic 
than Vedic. It is also true that Vedic displays changes, 
attritions and innovations even as we move from the older 
family Books (3, 6, 7) of the RV (= Rgveda-samhita) to the 
later ones (8,9,10), and, of course, from the RV to the 
Upanishads. But these mutations do not detract from the 
general archaic character of the language and most assuredly 
do not prove that it came from Iran into Saptasindhu (=the 
land of Seven Rivers in N-W India and Pakistan) cl700-1500 
BCE. Schmitt mentions no dates, sidestepping this issue, 
which is the one serious cause for the “Indo-Aryan 
controversy”, as it is generally called. 

2. In recent years others have also made similar claims as 
Schmitt and this is natural since the general AIT (=Aryan 
Invasion/Immigration Theory) holds that the IAs 
(=IndoAryans) moved away from an hypothetical, unified, 
original Hr (=Indo-Iranian) community somewhere in ancient 
Iran/Persia and entered Saptasindhu. 


144 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

One such interesting claim was made by R. Beekes, a 
well-known comparativist (see his 1995 publication), who 
wrote that Avestan “is even more archaic than Sanskrit in that 
it preserves systematically the PIE laryngeals” (1988: xv). 
This is a most extraordinary assertion, since Avestan has no 
attested laryngeals whatever, but Beekes willfully inserts 
them wherever it suits his speculative “historical” approach. 

R. Beekes’ counter evidence! 

That Beekes’ assertion is highly arbitrary is shown by his 
own presentation of facts and comments thereon. Hereafter I 
shall mark (el), (e2) and so on, contrary evidence that shows 
the anteriority of Sanskrit. On page 1 (ch.l) Beekes writes: 
“drd was monosyllabic.” Sometimes it appears as or9: 
mordndat - and this is my (el). This “it”, which is 
monosyllabic even though it appears as drd/ord, represents 
the sonorant | r\ which disappeared entirely from Avestan but 
remained alive and kicking in Sanskrit. Since the exigencies 
of the metre in Avestan texts require that this drd/ord 
morpheme be counted as monosyllabic, surely the 
implication is that the poetic texts, even as they were being 
composed, did have the | r|; but due to dialectal 
pronunciation and other factors this changed. Moreover, 
since we have two alternatives (in fact there are also ar, ard, 
ra etc), we must suppose that the Iranian unity itself broke 
up into different dialects and pronunciations. Sanskrit retains 
a steady \r\: eg. Av/S arstiVrsti ‘spear’, var*sa-Zvrksd ‘tree, 
wood’, ratu-Mu ‘point of time, season’ etc. 

Beekes writes that a set of words “must have had a more 
archaic form” and gives as archaic forms the Sanskrit! Thus in 
this set we find (e2) Av/S divamna/dyumna ‘celestial light/ 
splendour’, jva/jlva ‘life’ etc. Now since dyumna and jiva 
are perfectly common Sanskrit lexemes, surely common 
sense bellows out that Sanskrit is more archaic. Even Beekes 
says the Vedic forms are more archaic! 


! 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 145 


Then jumping over a few pages dealing with metrical 
details and entering into ch 2 ‘The Phonetic system’, we find 
many more examples. (e3) On pl6 we note uh8a- ‘word’ 
(=S uktha) and vax’Sra- < *va%0ra ‘speech’ < vaktra- (=S 
vak.tra)\ Beekes writes here that ‘the development xQ>xS 
is problematic”. Of course, the problem is only in his (and 
other iranianists’) notion that Avestan is more archaic than 
Sanskrit. (e4) Immediately following, we find fdSroi which is 
the Ds 1 of ‘father’ pta-. This Dative is found also as fdrai and 
pidre - a fact which indicates clearly that even OAv was 
divided into different dialects. Now, OAv pidre and YAv 
piOre = S pitre, Ds. On the very next page we read the 
phoneme Is | arose from rt as in arr \dsa- ‘immortal’ (=S amfta)-, 
hr from \r\ before \k\ or \p\ as in vdhrka- ‘wolf’ (=S vrka) or 
kdhipdm- body’ (=S kfph). 

Thus we have already five very clear counter-evidences 
from Beekes’ own writing to his assertion that Avestan is 
older than Vedic. The rest of his book teems with similar 
cases and we shall examine some later on. 

Why Beekes does not follow his own common sense 
displayed in the above examples and in numerous others 
and elects to introduce non-existent laryngeals and then use 
these hypothetical concoctions as actualities is beyond 
understanding. But then, that Avestan should be shown to be 
more archaic than Sanskrit seems to be an integral aspect of 
the mainstream linguistic Doctrine, which is the AIT, namely 
that the Indoaryans left the Iranians from their supposed 
common habitat in southeastern Iran and moved into 
Saptasindhu. 

Methodological difficulties in Schmitt. 

3- One basic difficulty here is deciding what is archaic 
and what is new, as Schmitt himself points out. (See also Di 


1 Ds = Dative singular. So also with other cases: Acp=Accusative plural; 
Abd=Ablative dual; and so on. Also S = Sanskrit and Av = Avestan: OAv = 
Old Avestan, YAv = Young Avestan. 



146 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Giovine 2009 and paper in this issue). It is generally claimed 
that Hittite is archaic or that it has archaisms. How do we 
know this? Well, comes the answer, it was the first to split 
away from the unified PIE community. And how do we know 
this? Here, nobody says plainly “Well, Hittite is ostensibly 
the first IE language to appear in writing cl650”, because 
this is not much of an explanation. So they say, “Well, it has 
archaic features like laryngeals, only two genders, a simple 
verbal system” and so on - which now becomes a circuitous 
mode of arguing, no better than the first explanation. So this 
matter of archaism vs innovation is (attempted to be) sorted 
out by reference to the speculative and unverifiable PIE 
“reconstructions” which are themselves based on this 
circularity! 

This is the second problem with Schmitt’s effort: the use, 
almost invariably, as premises and/or criteria, of the 
“reconstructed” PIE which is entirely conjectural and exists 
(in incomplete form) only in modern books. Schmitt’s 
presentation is one of many examples where this fictional 
entity is treated as real fact! How a hypothesis that can in no 
way be verified - and in this case we need PIE itself, as we 
have Vedic, Hittite etc - is used so brazenly as fact, then 
premise and decisive criterion is beyond understanding. But 
comparativists have different values and so, without 
hesitancy, move year by year further away from linguistic 
actualities into nebulous speculations. Personally, I cannot 
take seriously such “reconstructions” and will not pay much 
attention to them. 

A third difficulty is selectivity. However, unlike the 
second aspect, i.e. the non-attested proto-language, this 
aspect cannot be sidestepped. By the very nature of the 
exercise one has to be selective. I too shall be selective in 
gathering and presenting cases which prove that Vedic is 
more archaic than Avestan and is indigenous to N-W India. 
But selectivity is of two kinds: one type of selectively 
chooses some representative samples from a large array; the 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 147 


other - disingenuous - chooses only what suits a particular 
line of thought and ignores all contrary evidences. I’ll show 
that Schmitt does indulge in the second kind as well. 

What then? Will the issue be decided democratically by 
counting which side has more and apparently irreversible 
cases? It is one way but, naturally, not conclusive since cases 
vary in significance and weight. We must look for other 
types of evidence that have neither unverifiable 
speculations nor doubtful subjective judgements. Are there 
such criteria? 

Well, yes, there are types of evidence that are not 
ambivalent, hypothetical and objectionable. And here 
follows the first sample. 

Independent counter-evidence. 

4. (e5) Sanskrit has a periphrastic perfect 2 . So does 
Hittite where it is formed with the finite forms of the verb ‘to 
have’ bar-, har-ak as auxiliary and the nom/acc sing neuter 
participle of the verb: e.g. mar-kan har-teni ‘you have cut’: 
this is the only perfect Hittite has. Avestan too has the 
periphrastic perfect. No other IE branch has this - except as 
a very late innovation in historical times (Drinka 2001). 

In Vedic this perfect is formed with the accusative of a 
feminine noun made from the verbal stem and with the 
perfect of kr- ‘to do’ (cakara/cakre) as auxiliary: this is found 
first in the Atharva Veda (18.2.27: gamayam cakara), 
continues with frequency in the Brahmanas, then gives 
precedence to a new construction with the perfect of as- ‘to 
be’ as auxiliary as in mantrayam asa, and then, in addition, 
with the perfect of bhu- ‘to become, be’. Avestan has a 
similar construction with the acc sing of the feminine 


2 T. Burrow (1973) and some other sanskritists ignore this, but not 
MacDonell (1916/1927), Whitney (1888/1962) and others. 





148 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

participle of the main verb and the perfect of ah- ‘to be’ (=S 
as-) as auxiliary: e.g. astara yeintim ah- ‘must have 
corrupted’. 

Now, if Indo-Aryan had indeed moved away from the 
unified Indo-Iranian community in Iran, then how does it 
have the auxiliary kr- first and for a long period, and only 
afterwards the auxiliary as-, which is ah- in Avestan? In other 
words, if Old Indie had separated from Indo-Iranian it should 
have had the equivalent of the ah- construction, that is as-, 
and only later that of kr-. We must conclude, on the 
contrary, that Avestan moved away from the Indo- 
Iranian unity, and it did this when the use of as-as 
auxiliary in the periphrastic perfect was well- 
established in the Brahmana texts. 

Of course mainstream thinking will soon come up with 
some explanation, such as - that the two constructions 
developed independently and that in any case, the 
periphrastic (e.g. vidam kr-) is not so commonly used as the 
reduplicated (S dadarsa, Av dadardsa) or the simple perfect 
(S veda, Av vaeda), and so on. Well, yes, perhaps. But we 
are used to these tactics and know they are hollow. Why 
would either Vedic or Avestan develop a third type of 
perfect? 3 ... Hittite had no other means of expressing the 
perfective aspect with its implicit present meaning. But 
when you already have two types to do this, why would you 
invent a third long-winded and more complicated one? 

There is no reason, other than that it was inherited and, in 
prehistoric times, when it was conceived, signified a nuance 
we cannot fully fathom. The fact that this construction is not 
in the RV does not mean it was not in existence. We do know 
now that several elements of Proto-Indo-Aryan did not make 
it into the i?Fbut appeared in much later texts (see Schmitt 
2009:21; Fortson 2004:196; Jamison 2004a, 2004b). 


3 B. Drinka does not deal at all with this issue in her examination of 
the perfect in her two papers of 2003 and 2001. 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 149 


Surely it cannot be coincidence that both languages have 
the accusative case singular of a feminine. 

Let us now take a second example of independent 
evidence. 

Earlier, in § 1, I used the term Saptasindhu as the name of 
the ancient region of the Seven Rivers in N-W India and 
Pakistan - countries which did not exist at that period. I use it 
as a bahuvrihi, as many others have done before me, 
although in the RV we find references only to the Seven 
Rivers sapta slndhavah (and different oblique cases of the 
plural). Now (e6) Avestan has the name Haptahdndu as a 
place, like A'ryana Vaejah, Rar\ha, Haetumant, etc, from 
which the Iranians had passed before settling down in 
eastern Iran, then spreading west and north. But what is this 
name? Yes, bapta- is the numeral ‘seven’ but what of 
hdndhu ? It is a fairly obvious Avestan correspondence to the 
Sanskrit slndhu 

Now hdndu is an isolated occurrence. The stem does not 
otherwise exist in Avestan. Hi n du appears in Old Persian 
indicating the Indian province under the Achaemenids, and 
that is all. The interpretation ‘seven rivers’ comes from the 
Sanskrit collocation. But the Avestan for river is usually 
Oraotah- (=S srotas) and raodah-. 

In Sanskrit slndhu ‘river, sea’ comes either from V syand 
‘flowing’ or from V sidh ‘reaching, succeeding’, both of 
which generate several derivatives, while slndhu itself 
appears in compounds like sindhuja, sindhupati ‘riverborn, 
riverlord’ etc, and has cognates like saindhava ‘marine, salt, 
horse’ etc. 

Surely nobody would be so foolhardy as to suggest that 
the IAs took this otherwise unattested stem from Iranian and 
used it so commonly and productively. Schmitt certainly 
makes no such suggestion. But how are we to resolve this 
situation? 

Clearly, the Avestan and Vedic names are connected. 
Since the Vedic name cannot reasonably be said to come 





150 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

from the Avestan, then the Avestan must come from the 
Vedic. Moreover, the Vedic collocation sapta sindhu- does 
not occur at all in the very early Books of the RV (i.e. 3, 6, 7) 
but once only in Bk2 (12.3,12) and Bk4 (28.1), then twice in 
Bkl (32.12; 35.8), Bk8 (54.4; 69.12) and BklO (43.3; 67.12) 
and once in Bk9 (66.6). Now in the earliest Mandalas 3,6,7 
(as well as later ones) we find collocations like sapta srotas-, 
sravat-, yahvi- or nadi- but not sindhu-. This then suggests 
that the Iranians left the Saptasindhu only after the 
collocation sapta sindhu- had been established by the late 
Mandalas. The chronology of the Mandalas will be discussed 
in the next section. 

Please note (a) that the two cases I have mentioned do 
not involve the doubt-ridden contrast of archaism and 
innovation nor hypothetical Proto-languages and (b) that I 
have not referred at all to the equation of original *s in the 
unknown PIE with S /s/ and Av /h/ 

Further down we shall examine several more similar 
cases which do not require conjectural reconstructions but 
only a little reasoning and courage to face facts. Before 
proceeding with such cases I would like to clarify the 
division between the early Books of the RV and the late 
ones. 

Chronological sequence of the RV mandalas. 

5. There is common agreement among all vedists that the 
Family Mandalas 2-7, are earlier than the others (1,8-10). 
Some from the 19 th century to the late 20 th (e.g. Oldenberg 
1888, Hopkins 1896, Witzel 1995b, 1997) have delved 
deeper and made even finer distinctions. 

Some years ago, S. Talageri examined the relevant 
evidence in order to date more accurately the 10 Mandalas 
(Talageri 2000). Utilizing earlier studies from Oldenberg to 
Witzel, who used mainly linguistic criteria, but examining 
also the names in the Anukramanis of the rsis who composed 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 151 


the hymns and the incidence of names of kings or heroes 
playing an important role in the events of the era (e.g. Sudas, 
son of Divodasa), he arrived at the following sequence: 

6,3,7,4,2,5,1,8,9,10 

Earliest - 6,3,7; 

Middle - 4,2 (and few hymns of Bkl); 

Medial - 5 (and few hymns of Bkl); 

Late - most of Bkl, 8,9; 

Latest - 10. 

Frankly, none of these criteria can secure an 
indubitable, utterly reliable chronology. Linguistic criteria 
are useful, of course; but a writer can easily imitate an 
archaic style: I am thinking of the orphic Hymns in Greece 
which were composed in the first two centuries of the 
Common Era but their language is extremely archaic. E.W. 
Hopkins gave examples in the RV Books themselves 
(1896). Then, a poet of a later era may well decide to give 
prominence to a figure of a much earlier period ignoring 
figures closer to his own era. As for the names of the poets 
themselves, here too there are difficulties and 
uncertainties: for example, hymn 10.186 is addressed to 
Vata, the Windgod, by one named Vatayana ( =Vata-ayana 
‘descendant of Vata’) while 10.158 is addressed to Surya 
the Sungod, by one Caksus Surya, and stanza four prays 
for “sight in our eye” ( caksus ); then, 10.14 is by one Yama 
referring to god Yama and the hounds of heaven; 9.107 is 
by the Seven Sages, 8.27-8 are by Manu Vaivasvata, which 
fact assigns them to very ancient prehistory; and so on! 
True names like Bharadvaja or Visvamitra are not of such 
nature, nonetheless the doubt has entered regarding the 
reliability of the names of the rsis. as valid evidence. More 
reliable evidence comes from Aitareya Brahmana which 
states (6.18) that six hymns in 7?VBook 3 (30, 31, 34, 36, 
38, 48) were inserted into this book at a late date. 


152 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

However, all in all I accept Talageri-’s scheme but not 
his view that it took about 2000 years to complete the RV 4 . 
Although there are some serious linguistic differences 
between the early and late hymns, two millennia constitute a 
very long period and one would expect many more changes 
in the language - more or less like those observable in the 
poetic Upanishads. Be that as it may, the RV was complete 
by c3300 BCE 5 except for the interpolations. 

Moreover, for my purposes, I shall make the following 
simple division: 

Early books 3,6 and 7; 

Middle 2,4; 

Late: 5, 1, 8, 9 and 10; 

Probably Talageri on his part, Witzel on his own part and 
others with different preferences, will disagree. So be it. 

4 As usual Oldenberg, Arnold, Hopkins and others do not agree fully, 
and Witzel in later studies prevaricates with increased intensity 
contradicting his own statements before 2000 regarding late and early 
hymns. We can safely ignore Witzel’s contradictory remarks. The 
ineluctable facts are that the early Books 3,6,7 mention not one rishi or his 
descendants who composed later hymns (Bks 1,2,4,5,8-10). In sharp 
contrast, hymns in Book 4 are composed by Ajamllha Sauhotra in 
common with Purumilha Sauhotra who are obviously descendants of 
Suhotra Bharadvaja, composer of 6.31-32. Furthermore, in the early Books 
we meet kings Divodasa and Sudas as more or less contemporaneous 
(with king Bharata, an ancient figure) whereas in the later books Divodasa 
and Sudas are ancestral figures while their descendants are 
contemporaneous - e.g. Sahadeva and Somaka. 

Unfortunately we have no other, more secure data to rely upon. And, 
what is more, this conclusion does not violate Oldenberg’s criteria or the 
views of older vedists. 

However, see N. Achar’s paper herein where a new approach is given. 
Unfortunately, this paper came to my notice much too late and so I was 
unable to give it full consideration. 

5 The RV knows nothing of writing, baked-brick building, cotton, 
iconography, urbanization, ruins and several other features of the mature 
Indus-Sarasvati culture which began to manifest at about 3000, yet are 
known in post rigvedic texts, AtharvaVeda, YajurVeda etc. (See Kazanas 
2009b.) 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 153 


I trust that no one will disagree that Bks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 are 
earlier, that the RV is earlier than the remaining Vedic corpus 
and that the entire Vedic corpus from the RV to and including 
the ten-twelve early Upanishads, is earlier than the Sutra and 
Epic and subsequent literature. 

6. This division is important because it has an 
independent, decisive bearing on the relation between 
Vedic and Avestan. (The evidence is so abundant that I shall 
not refer to disputed and doubtful hymns.) And here we 
meet a curious but not unsurmountable difficulty. Some 
scholars find such differences between the two tongues that 
they believe the two developed independently from two 
distinct dialects of PIE (e.g. Meillet 1967 and, of course, 
several Italians like Bonfante 1931 and Pisani 1971, who 
postulate dialects and not a PIE unitary language). Others 
insist that Vedic and Avestan are so (misleadingly) similar 
that they come from a common dialect, Proto-Indo-Iranian, 
and stand in the relation of sisters (Fortson 2004:180; et al); 
and it is well known that “whole sentences ... may be 
transposed from one language to the other” (Sims-Williams 
2006: 126). 

However, Meillet is not entirely wrong since Avestan, in 
common with all the other branches, lost the original voiced 
aspirates (e.g. *dh as in S dbaman ‘domain’ vs Av daman); 
also the original *r (e.g. as in S bhrti ‘maintenance’ vs Av 
bdrHi-). Then, in Avestan (as in Armenian, Phrygian and 
Greek) original *s in pre- or inter-vocalic position became b. 
e.g. S soma vs Av baoma, S asura vs Av abura-. This 
immediately suggests that Avestan broke away from Old 
Indie. In any event, surely it is most odd since Indo-Iranian is 
supposed to have separated, albeit late, from the other 
branches, and even from Armenian and Greek (which are 
thought by many to be so close to Hr as to form a small sub¬ 
group) and moved, always according to the AIT of the IE 
linguistic Doctrine, south-east into Persia whence IAn later 


154 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

broke away into Saptasindhu. Of course, this isogloss *s>h 
could have developed independently (as perhaps the loss of 
the voiced aspirates and the retroflex r). But it is a bit of a 
mystery that IA did not suffer these losses and mutations 
despite its additional trek (in contrast to Tocharian which 
made a correspondingly long journey and, indeed, suffered 
many such changes). 

Here, we must note that many scholars observed that it is 
the late Books of the RV and particularly Bk8 that are closely 
linked with the Avesta and its language. In fact Hopkins 
stressed this view in no uncertain terms: 

Book 8, he wrote, with the General Books [i.e. 1, 9, 
10] and post-Rik literature agrees with Avestan as 
against the early family books (1896:73, my bracket). 
And adds: We must, I think, suppose that the Avesta and 
RV. viii are younger than RV. ii-vii; or else that the 
poets of viii were geographically nearer to the 
Avestan people and so took from them certain words 
(ibid, 81). 

Yes, it is always possible that the Vedics borrowed from 
the Iranians but this view assumes the Hr unified advance 
southward and the AIT as premises which had been 
established by the 1880’s. We saw that all scholars agree on 
the antiquity of RV ii-vii vs the lateness of viii-x. We saw two 
examples (and will see many more) which indicate rather 
decisively that Iranian moved out of the larger Saptasindhu. 
But, be that as it may for now, what actually concerns us is 
the relation of the different Books of the RV to the Avesta. 
And here Hopkins states that the late Mandalas agree with 
the Iranian text. Why? 

Many other scholars after Hopkins noted the synchrony 
between the Avesta and the later Vedic literature. Thus J. 
Tavadia, expert in Indo-Iranian studies, wrote: “It is the 
eighth Mandala [of the RV\ which bears the most striking 
similarity to the Avesta. There ... (and of course partly in the 
related first Mandala) do some common words like ustra and 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 155 


the strophic structure called pragatha occur” (1950; my 
square brackets). We shall examine further down the 
common lexemes and the strophic structures in the two 
traditions. 

Iranianist H. Humbach, too, emphasises the same 
similarity pointing out (e7) the polarisation of relations 
between the Ahuras and the Daevas in the Gathic Avesta and 
the reverse polarisation between Devas and Asuras which 
only begins to occur in the later books of the RV\ he 
concludes: “All this suggests a synchrony between the later 
Vedic period and Zarathustra’s reform in Iran” (1991:23). It is 
a very clear statement, allocating the Avesta towards the later 
Vedic period. 

Hopkins not only had a general feeling about this 
synchrony but also noted the common vocabulary in the 
Avesta and the later Mandalas. Some of these stems like 
udaro-Zudara ‘belly' or zdmdtar-/jamatar ‘son-in-law’ have 
IE cognates (Mayrhofer, KEWA/EWA) and cannot therefore 
be regarded as items for comparison. Two other words 
maesa-/mesa ‘ram, sheep’ and mlz-/biza ‘seed’ have 
cognates but only in the Balto-Slavic families (Lith maisas/ SI 
mechb Targe sack’ and Lith miezus ‘grain’ respectively): 
these could be considered developments or loans within the 
satdm group (Vedic/Avestan/Slavic/Baltic) and should not be 
used in comparison tests. Both words occur in the late 
Mandalas and thus corroborate the close relation with the 
Avesta. But I leave them out. There are many more lexemes 
for this purpose. 

Key non-IE words are, otherwise, S ustra ‘camel’, kstra 
‘ milk / gatha ‘song’ and several more, soon to be examined. 

M. Witzel (2001, 2005) and A. Lubotsky (2001) think that 
these and some more, like kasydpa/kasiiapa- ‘tortoise’ and 
bhangd/banha- ‘hemp’, were borrowed by the common Hr 
on its way south from an unknown BMAC language (Bactria- 
Margiana Archaeological Complex). But surely the I As did 
not live in a vacuum and, as they expanded north and west of 


156 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

the region of the Seven Rivers (RV 6.61.9, 12), they 
obviously came into contact - if this did not happen earlier 
through trade — with other nations and languages. That they 
should then borrow some vocabulary (e.g. ustra ‘camel’, 
kasyapa ‘tortoise’, bhanga ‘hemp’ etc) is not unnatural and 
they most certainly did not need to have travelled from the 
Pontic Steppe to have picked up these and similar loan 
words. 

Lexemes in late-Vedic and post-Vedic texts. 

7. The point about the preceding discussion is that all 
these non-IE words are found in the RV and the Avesta and 
most occur only in the late Mandalas, i.e. 1, 5, 8, 9, 10 - not in 
the middle and early ones, i.e. 2, 4 and 3, 6, 7. There are 
some exceptions and Hopkins argued that these are either in 
late hymns or late intrusions in the early hymns as happens 
with some verses. This fact would indicate that Avestan 
moved away from wider Saptasindhu, or that the early 
Avestan parts, i.e. the gaQas were being produced at the 
same time as, or shortly after, these late rigvedic hymns were 
composed. It is difficult to see why these words were used 
only in the late but not the five earlier RV books. True, 
absence of evidence is no sure evidence of absence. But this 
would apply for one, two, five items not 50 or more. One 
would not expect words like asa ‘space’, ksira ‘milk’, or stn 
‘woman’ to be used immediately since the language had 
synonyms; but one would expect Istaka ‘brick’ (YajurVeda), 
gandha ‘smell’ (1.162.10b only), sanais ‘softly, slowly’ 
(thrice in Bk8), or siici ‘needle’ ( suka in EWA, III491, 363). 

Below I present a list of 100 such words from Hopkins, 
Lubotsky and Witzel leaving out doubtful and well-attested 
IE cases like udara/udaro/huderos etc. I obtained several 
more myself from Dictionaries (e.g. takman ‘fever’ in AV, 
pravaha ‘current’ in SB etc: EWA) and several collocations of 
near exact correspondence. I do not distinguish between 
Gathic and Late Avestan because the material from the 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 157 


former would be negligible and, in any case, the different 
forms of the words do not affect the issue; a word appearing 
in Younger Avestan was most probably available in the older 
language but probably not in the same form and not used. On 
the other hand words appearing in O Persian and subsequent 
dialects have been left out. The words are arranged in the 
Sanskrit alphabetical order: first is the Sanskrit form, then its 
meaning, then in brackets the Avestan form and finally the 
Indie source: numerical indications refer to the RV as also 
early (Bks 3, 6, 7), middle (2, 4) and late (1, 5, 8-10), or 
initials of sources; words with a cross before are post- 
rigvedic and thought by Lubotsky (2001) and Witzel (2005, 
etc) to be loans (from the BMAC or whatever); the letter ‘c’ 
indicates collocation, the cross at the end indicates continued 
use in later texts. 

+ aka ‘pain’ ( aka -): TS+ 

angustha ‘finger, thumb’ (angusto)-. SBr +. 

apama ‘most distant’ ( apdmo ): 10.39.3, +. 

avasana ‘stop, rest’ ( avahana -): 10.14.9, +. 

amavattara ‘more impetuous’ (3 mavastara-'): 10.76.5, +. 

arhana- ‘claiming, deserving’ ( ardfan -): 1.87.1; Su +. 

dvitti ‘non-obtaining’ (3 visti): AV+. 

avithura ‘non lurching’ ( alviQura -): 1.87.1: Su +. 

asvasthana ‘horse-stable’ (aspo. stand): Su +. 

akrti ‘form, existence’ ( akdrdti ‘formation’): 10.85.5, +. 

amanas ‘of friendly mind’ ( a.manarjha -): AV+. 

asa ‘space’ ( asah-y. 4.37.7; 6 in late. 

+ istaka ‘(baked) brick’ (istiia-)-. VS +. 

(sam-)lha- ‘striving for’ ihate ‘endeavours’ ( iziia -, iziie'ti): 

VS +. 

ustra ‘camel’ ( ustra -): 1.138.2: 4 in 8. 
c rtdsya...dhama ‘abode of rta’ (i 2 .s i d...damam): 4.7.7; 2 in 1 & 

1 in 10. 

evatha ‘so, exactly’ ( aeuuada ): 8.24.15. 

ojodattama ‘most strength-giving’ (aogozdastdma-)-. 8.92.17. 

ojasvant ‘powerful’ (aofahvant-)-. 8.76.5. 


158 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

odana ‘brew (doubtfully of rice)’ ( ao8a -): 8.58.14; twice in 
8.66. See also odatl ‘shimmering’, epithet for Usas in 1 
and 8 and odman ‘flood, wetness’ in VS +. Definitely late 
formations. 

c aicchat. .avindat ‘one wanted [and] found’ 
( isdmnd...vindd‘te ): MaitrayanI S: collocation (under 
vinda- in EWA). 

+ kadru ‘reddish-brown’ ( kadruua-aspa ‘reddish-brown 
horse’ name of mountain): TS + .kadru ‘wooden vessel 
in 8.45.26; trikadruka- in 2, 1, 8, 10. Only the colour is 
common to the two cultures (late in Sanskrit). 

+ kapha ‘mucus, phlegm’ i.kafa-')-. Up, Susruta, +. 

+ kasyapa ‘tortoise, pr.n’ ( kasiiapa -): AV +; name of rsi for 
1.99 & in 9.114.2. 

kesa ‘hair’ (gaesa): post-rigvedic, but kesavant 10.105-5 (& 
kesin 3.6.6, 3-41.9; otherwise 17 late: 6 in 1, 3 in 8, 8 in 
10). 

c kratva manasa ‘with strong mind’ ( xrateus mananhasca)-. 
4.33.9. 

c kratva sacate ‘accompanies, unites with strength’ 
(hacaite...xratus)\ 1.145.2. 

c vardhayanti .. ksatram ‘they increase rulership’ 
( hsaprdm... var^daHi)-. 1.54.8. 

c ksiprasva- ‘swift-horse’ ( xsuuifiraspa- pr.n): Jaiminlya Br. 

+ khara ‘donkey’ (haro/xara-) /I UP pi +. 

gada ‘club’ (gaSa): Up, Su +. 

gandha ‘smel’ (gainti-): 1.162.10 only; + 

gandharva ‘heavenly being’ (gandahwo)-. 3-38.6 (late hymn); 

21 late- 2 in 1, 2 in 8, 4 in 9, 11 in 10; +. 
gathd ‘song’ (gada)-. 5.44.5; then 1, 8-10. 

+ grda ‘penis’ ( gere8-a/o -): TS +. 

+ cat-vala ‘pit, dughole’ (cat- ‘well’): Kathaka Samhita. 

+ jahaka ‘hedgehod’ ( duzaka -): VS +. 
takman ‘fever’ ( tafnah -): AV+. 

tanu-kft/krtha ‘attenuating’ ( tanukdrdta -): 1.31.9; 2 in 8. 
c svaya tanva ‘by one-self’ ( bunam tanuni): AV. 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 159 


tamasvant ‘having gloom’ ( tdmahvani ): AV. 
tisya/tisiya- ‘archer, lunar mansion’ (tistriia ): 5.54.13; 
10.64.8. 

tokman ‘sprout, fresh blade’ ( taoxman ): 10.62.8, +. 

MftS aptya a deity (0n'to aOjHid)-. 1.105.9; 2 in 8, 1 in 10. 
traltana a deity (praetaona ) 1.158.5. 

c na...trata vidyate ‘no protector is seen’ (naprata risto): 
Epic. 

c asum...daddtu ‘let one give life’ (ahum dadaf) 10.59.7. 
dirghabahu ‘longarnaed’ ( dardgo.bazu ): Epic. 
dirghayajna ‘long sacrifice’ (dardy-yasn-): Epic. 
dirghayu ‘long-life’ ( dardgaciu ): 1.96.8; 8.70.7; +. 
c devanam devatama- ‘most godly of gods’ (daeuuanam 
daeuuo. tdmo ): 2.24.3. 

devayaj-/devayajna ‘god sacrifice’ (daeuua-iiaz/iiasna): VS 
+ (EWA). 

durdpa ‘hard to attain’ ( duz.apiia ): S Br +. 

duristi ‘bad offering, defect in sacrifice’ ( duz.iiasti ) AV + . 

durukta ‘bad, harsh speech’ ( duz.uxta -): Br +. 

dur-dhd- ‘plant confusion’ ( duz.da-) 1.40.11; 10.109.4; +. 

durmanas ‘bad disposition’ ( duzmanah ): Epic +. 

dimnanman ‘evil-minded’ ( dus.mainiiu -): 8.49.7. 

durvacas ‘abuse/abusive’ ( duz.vacah ): Epic. 

+ niks-, neksana ‘piercing instrument’ ( naeza -): AV+. 
parikara ‘preparing’ etc ( pa'rikara -): Epic. 
pankarsa ‘dragging round’ ( pdri.karsa -): Epic. 
parivara ‘covering; retinue’ ( pa‘ri.vdre -): Epic. 
puccha “tail’ ( pusa -): AV+. 
putrada- ‘child giver’ ( pupro.da -): post-vedic. 
putravant ‘having child(ren)’ (pupra.vant}. VS +. 
puro-gam- ‘going first’ (frogd -): 1.118.11; 3 in 10; Epic +. 
pratiprasna ‘counterquestion’ (pa'tipx)r’sn-. frasa-}. AV+. 
prabhartr ‘procurer’ (frabardtar-): 1.178.3; 8.2.35. 
pramanas ‘careful’ (framanah -): AV +. 
prava-c/k- ‘declare/declaration’ (Jra.vac/k -): Br +. 
pravara ‘covering’ (fravdraP-. Br Up +. 


160 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

pratisthana ‘establishment, fixed stand’ (pa'ti.stand)-. Br +. 

prativacana ‘answer’ ( pdti.vaca -): Epic. 

pratipa ‘adverse’ (pa'tipa-): Epic. 

prartha ‘eager; equipment’ (frapya-) AV +. 

buddhi ‘discrimination, reason’ (- busti -): Su +. 

bhahgd ‘hemp’ (bar)ha-): AV + . 

marka ‘death’ (mahrka-): 10.27.20; +. 

c deva utd martyaso ‘gods and mortals’ (daevaisca 
masyaisca): 8.48.1. Here, of course, the Avestan is 
‘devils and mortals’, since the meaning of daeva changed 
from deva ‘deity’. 

manasya- ‘have in mind’ (manahya): Br +. 
c mana hiranyaya ‘with a golden ornament’ (zaPmu- 
...ma‘ni): 8.78.2. 

malha ‘belly, udder’ (mdrdzana-): TS +. 
mithyavac- ‘false speech’ (midah.vac-): S Br +. 
muja- (vat-) name of a people (muza-): AV +. (Also, name 
of a mountain). 

varaha ‘wild bear’ (varaza-): in 1, 8-10. 
vartraghna ‘victorious’ (verprazna-): VS, TS. (From 
vrtrahan- ‘slayer of demon Vrtra’ epithet of Indra. 
valka ‘bark’ (vadka-): TS +. (Appears in Bulgarian & Russian 
only: late loan?) 

vast ‘axe, cutter’ (vast-): 3 in 1, then 2 in 5, 8,10. 
c vastra...vdsdna ‘wearing clothes’ (vastra 0 ...vaijhatu)-, 
9.97.2. 

vifivitd ‘dead, lifeless’ (vifua-): Ep 
vitasti ‘span’ (length) (vitasti-): S Br +. 
videva ‘godless’ ( vldaeva ): AV+. 
vidya ‘knowledge’ (vaedya-): 10.71.11; +. 
vtdvesa ‘enmity, hate’ (vidvaisa-): 8.1.2; 22.2; +. 
c (ichan...) avi(n)dat ‘desiring..(s)he found’ (isdmno... 
vinddte): 10.46.2; 67.4. 

visvatanu ‘having all forms’ ( vispd.tanu -): Pur (EWA under 
visva-). 

visvapati ‘all-lord’ (vispopa‘tis-): Epic +. 


I 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / l6l 


visvavasu ‘all-riches’ ( vtspa.vohu ): 10.85.2; and 2 more in 10. 
visvavidvams- ‘having known all’ ( vispo.viduah -): post vedic 
c visve amratds(as) ‘all immortals’ ( vispasca amds a‘~): 
1.59.1; 4.1.10; 42.1 

vrkka ‘kidney’ (vdrdbka): 1.187.10; AV+. 
vrtratara ‘more than Vrtra’ (vdr s pramtar~): 1.32.5. 
vrsnl ‘male, vigorous’ ( varsni -) 1.102.2; 8.6.6; TS. 
vedistha ‘most-procuring’ ( vaedista -): 8.2.24. 
vesman ‘abode’ ( vaesmdn -) 1.46.3; 10.107.4; +. 

+ sarva a demon (sauna-): AV. 

suka ‘sting’ (suka ‘awn of grain’): Epic +. 

[suci(-ka) ‘needle’ (sucari): 2.32.4; 1.191.7: Variant of 
the above] 

sepa ‘tail’ ( xsuuaepa -): 5.2.7; 1 in 9; 2 in 10. 
sucitrd ‘varied, beautiful’ ( hucipra -): AV. 
sudhaman ‘moon (good abode)’ (hubciman-): Pur. 
sumaya ‘noble counsel’ pr.n. ( humaya ): 1.88.1; 167.2; +. 
susambhfx ‘well-bringing-together’ ( hus.hambdr s t -): TS 
susakba ‘good friend’ ( hus.hahd -): 1.173-9; 1 in 8; 2 in 10. 
susdna ‘easily obtained’ (hu. sdna -): 1.42.6. 
susthu ‘rightly’ ( hustu ): 8.22.18 +. 

c soma ... vrtraba ‘O Soma, vrtra-slayer’ (haomo.. vdrprajd): 
9.89.7; 2 more in 9. 

c bhesajdnam...s6mah ‘soma ... of cure(r)s’ 
(haomo...baesazyo): AV. 

c (made) somasya ‘in the exhilaration of soma’ (haomahe 
ma8d: 2.17.1; 4.26.5; and 5 late 
rubat somo na pdnatasya prste ‘may soma ascend as if up a 
mountain-slope’ (pa u rvatahva... viraobahe haomo): 
5.36.2. 

c soma-.. .sukratuh ‘soma all-/powerful/wise’ 
(haomo...huhsatus): 9-12.4; 10.25.8. 
sdmavant ‘having soma’ (haomavantP: 10.97.7; 113-8. 
sthund ‘column, post’ (stuna-)-. 1.59.1; 2 in 5, 1 in 8, 1 in 10. 
snavdn ‘sinew’ (snaavar): AV + 

hiranyapesas ‘gold-bedecked’ (zaranyopaesa-): 8.8.2; 
31 . 8 . 




162 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

8. The list has just over 120 items. Apart from simple 
words, there are compounds like tanu-kH and collocations 
like somah.. .sukratuh. 

Of these only gandharva occurs once in the apparently 
early 3.86.6 against 21 occurrences in Bks 1, 8-10. This 3-86 
is a late hymn inserted in Bk 3 at a much later date together 
with hymns 30, 31, 34, 36 and 48 according to Aitareya 
Brahmana 6.18. (Note: I don’t regard even this report as 
fool-proof. In any case, we could leave out this word and 20 
more. We would still have over (e8) 100 items. But, really, a 
reasonable mind would accept even 50.) 

Of these, again, only 6 occur in the middle Bks 2 and 4. 

Of the remainder, 59 (i.e. about half) occur in post- 
rigvedic texts and 15 in post-vedic ones. Thus (e9) we have 
more than 100 lexemes occurring only in the late Books and 
in post-rigvedic texts. Now, certainly, absence of evidence 
is not evidence of absence. However, here we have not 1, 2, 
5, or 10 items but 100. The words probably did exist in the 
language (or dialects, to be precise) but they were not used 
in the early Books; 59 of them (half the total) not at all in the 
RV. This surely has great significance. . 

Moreover, (elO) 14 of these did not perhaps belong to 
Sanskrit, according to Lubotsky (2001), but were loans. All 
14, marked with + before the word, are found in post- 
rigvedic texts. This signifies that the Avesta may be much 
later than the RV. 

(ell) To these I would add the Vedic yusma- and Av 
yusma- (against OAv xsma-<*usma-?). F Kuiper thinks 
Avestan borrowed yusma- from Vedic (1991:40). And I take 
this as a separate case because Kuiper promulgates a direct 
borrowing. 

Here again, as with the periphrastic perfect of the 
auxiliary as/ah, if the Avesta was contemporaneous with the 
RV, the 59 post-rigvedic words would not have appeared for 
the first time in the later texts; or, at least they would not be 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 163 

quite so many. The number is far too big to ascribe it to 
chance or accident. 

Synchrony of Proper names. 

9. Another reason Hopkins connected Books 1, 8-10 with 
Avesta is the use of priya as first member of compounds 
denoting proper names (1896:66). 

(el2) Indeed, in the Avesta are found such names as 
Friia, Friiana, Friiaspa. With Lubotsky’s Concordance .... 
and Mayrhofer’s 1979 publication and EWA we find several 
names in the RV too with priya- as first member and some of 
them repeating in Bks 1, 8-10: Priyaksatra (8.27.19); 
Priyajata (8.71.1); Priyadhama (1.140.1); Priyamedha 
(1.45.4; etc; 8.5.25; etc; 10.73-11); Priyaratha (1.122.7); 
Priyavrata (10.150.3); Priyasas (9-97.3). As there are many 
more occurrences, the list is selective. 

Mayrhofer gives in addition ( KEWA III, 174) some 
compound names with vdsu/vohu- (vaqhu) as first member 
(el3): e.g. Vasumanas (poet of 10.179-3) and Vohu.manah-; 
Vasurocis (8.34.16) and Vohu.raocah- etc. In Avestan the 
var\hu/vohu- as prefix is very common: e.g. Vohu.asti ( also 
in Mayrhofer corresponding to V vasu-atithi-'), Vohustra, 
Var\hu8ata etc. In the RV the corresponding stem is seen in 
Vasu-sruta (poet, 5-3-6), Vasuyu (poet 5-35), Vasu (poet, 
9-80-82), Vasukra (9.28.30 & poet of 10.27) etc. 

The word atithi (=Av asti-), on the other hand, as seen in 
Av Vahuasti, occurs in the RV in many compound names as 
second member: Devatithi (poet, 8.4 etc); Nipatithi (8.34); 
Brahmatithi (8.5); Medbatithi (poet, 1.12 etc; 8.1 etc; 9-2 
etc); The word vasu too occurs as second member (el4): 
Prabhu-vasu (9-35-6); Visva-vasu (poet 10.139) etc; also in 
Avestan Api.vohu, Fradat,var\hu etc, etc. 

Yet another case of naming is the Sanskrit suffix -ayana 
denoting ‘descendant of’ and usually demanding vrddhi in 
the stem (e!5). MacDonell gives (1916: 26l) as example the 


164 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

patronymic Kanvayana (RV 8.55.4). Avestan has several 
names with this suffix - Danaiiana, Friiana, Jistaiiana etc (in 
Mayrhofer 1979). In the late Books of the RV and in later 
texts we find several names in this category: Gaupayana, 
Narayana, Yamayana. Vatayana (RV 1.24; 160 etc; 10.56; 
90 etc; Tdndya Br) etc. 

All these names, compounds and patronymics, as 
Hopkins observed long ago, occur only in the late Mandalas. 
Obviously then, if the IAs had left the ancient unitary Hr 
community, as is commonly promulgated by the mainstream 
Doctrine (and Schmitt), they would have carried with them 
such names and used them in the early Mandalas as well. 
Therefore these names also, like so much else, constitute 
irrefutable evidence against the Doctrine, independent of 
conjectural reproductions and ambivalent data. The names 
are far too many and their incidence very frequent to invoke 
here coincidence or the convenient maxim “absence of 
evidence is no evidence of absence”. So, we must conclude 
that the Iranians distanced themselves from the IAs after it 
became fashionable to use priya and vdsu either as first or 
second members in compounds of proper names; this 
implies estrangement at the very earliest during the 
composition of hymns in Mandala 8. 

Some of Schmitt’s ‘irreversible’ cases. 

10. Before presenting more cases, let us examine some 
few examples from those given by Schmitt and see if we can 
discover different interpretations. But I say at the outset that 
indeed some Avestan forms may be more archaic but this fact 
alone does not make the Avestan language as a whole more 
archaic than Vedic. 

First, I agree fully with some of his examples in that they 
show an archaism lost in Sanskrit. For instance, huuar 3 ‘sun’ 
has Gs (=Gen Sing) 6 h L dng (p!9) showing its heteroclitic 


6 Hereafter the cases are in capital and the numbers in small letters: 
Ac = Accusative: Ab = Ablative; etc; s = singular; etc. (see also n 1.) 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 165 


class; Sanskrit has svar, Gs suras (cf dhar Gs ahnas) but, 
unusually Ls svar (unlike pur>pur-i ) like stems in -an (as 
with asman>asman-(i) or karman(-i) etc). Having written 
all this, I should point out that -ng (=r| often: so Beekes 
1988:19) crops up frequently where it should not normally 
be, as in Ls var\hdu of vahu/vohu ‘good’ (=S vasu). So h l dijg 
could be another red herring. 

The first example has to do with laryngeals which in fact 
do not exist in Vedic or Avestan. So we bypass it. In any case, 
we meet them in the next example. The second example 
also touches on laryngeals (the *h 2 one) and is concerned 
with the “irregular paradigm”, as Schmitt calls it, of ‘father’. 
He deals with various speculations about Proto-IIr, admits 
uncertainty but thinks “more genuine” the “irregular Avestan 
paradigm” with its many variant stems (OAv/Yav Ns ta/ptd- 
Acs pf tan)m/ptar/pitard m; Ds Jdroi, fdrai, piOre/piOre, Np Yav 
only, p a tard; Dp ptdPbiio). He points out that several good 
manuscripts favour the stem pt- for Acs and Np, which is 
found also in YAv in Ns pta and Dp ptar d biio (Schmitt, 
12-13). In fact, in the end, we don’t know what the Pllr stem 
was. (See also Hale 2004:748; Kazanas 2009b: 19-20). 

However, two aspects are not mentioned by Schmitt. 

a) The *h 2 performance in Vedic as conceived by 
comparativists. First, we should note that Latin too has the 
monotonous pit- stem (not only pat- as the Gk pat-) in Ju[s]- 
pitar and Mars- pitar; so it is strange that Vedic, with its 
strong tendency to level vowels down to a/a, has, as Schmitt 
says p.20) “repeated pit-’’. Second, the laryngeal h 2 is 
supposed to give a vowel but also aspiration to the 
preceding morpheme: thus alleged IE *dhugh 2 tr (Fortson 
2004: 204) gives Gm thugater and V duhitr while allegedly 
*sth 2 to > S sthitd and *pleth> S prathimdn. However, alleged 
PIE *ph 2 ter > S pitr without aspiration! What happened to 
the IE phonological “law”? Why is it not working here?... No 
explanation is given. But perhaps things are not quite as IE 
linguistics imagines them to be? 



166 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

In any event, it is best to deal with actualities rather than 
conjectural reconstructions. Schmitt’s discussion is based on 
imaginary constructs not realities. 

b) (el6) The termination -tar. In Sanskrit the word is not 
pitar but pitf( like duhitf, bhratr, datr, netr etc). Schmitt does 
not give the Acp which, by analogy with dataro, would end 
in -taro (or -taro as is its attested Np pd. taro). Vedic has 
pi-tfn. If the r is not original, then it is extremely difficult to 
see how Av ddter-(=\ T d(h)atr) ‘giving’ gives Gs ddOro, or, 
to take another attested example, atar ‘fire’ gives Ins ciOra 
(cf S datra). These formations can have resulted only from a 
stem ending in -tr/tr-. But since we have Acp -tfn, the 
original form stares us in the face. It is a well-known sandhi 
^combination) phenomenon in Sanskrit thatr + VI (other than 
f) = rVl (other than r). So, datr- or pitr- + a/e (for Ins and Dp) 
give datra or pitr a and datre or pitre respectively - as 
happens more or less in Avestan. 

Now, r is very unstable and requires great attention in its 
pronouncement; otherwise it very easily gets distorted into 
dr/ar/ir/ur or ri, ru and so on. So it is not surprising that S 
prt- ‘battle’ is in Avestan pdr 3 t- and mrga ‘(wild) animal’ is 
mdr’ya-. Now if -ar was the original ending (alleged PIE -ter, 
Av -tdr/tar Gk -ter/-ter/-tar, etc) why would the IAs change 
this simple sound into -tfn and especially the difficult Acp 
-tfn which requires the tongue to flick from the dental -Mo the 
retroflex -f- then back to dental -n?... All phonological 
mutations go from the more to the less difficult, never the 
other way round. 

This, indeed, is an irreversible movement - and not 
unverifiable reconstructions upon which nobody would 
seriously bet his/her life. This is not to deny, as said earlier 
(§1), that Avestan has, like other branches, archaisms lost in 
Vedic; but these certainly do not indicate that the IAs 
migrated cl700 from Iran to Saptasindhu. 

c) I shall return to r but before that, let us examine 
example no 6 in Schmitt (p 10). This is the contrast S vac- 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 167 


and Av vaxs/vahs. Schmitt connects the Avestan form with 
Latin vox, as well. First, he rightly points out that whereas 
Vedic inflects vak, vacam, vaca, vace etc, Avestan 
correspondingly has vaxs, vdcdm/vacim (YAv), vaca, vaco. 
He explains that Vedic retains the long -a- throughout, 
innovating in not showing ablaut, i.e. strengthening in 
strong cases Sing, nom, acc and weakening in the others 
(sing/pl Ins, Dat, etc) as Avestan does. 

Yes certainly, Avestan does show this differentiation 
in this case but it does not do so in many other cases like spas 
‘spy’ drubs' fiend’, vis- ‘settlement’ and YAv has PI nom/acc 
vaca strong, but also vaca weak! Neither does Vedic with jas 
‘child’ dmh, vi-/sam-raj (Av -raz-), vis and many others. 

What is quite revealing, however, is that while Av vaxs- 
is masculine, Av nominal compound pa'tivabs- is feminine 
like Vedic vac- ! So the question becomes now “Is the 
Avestan declension here, a genuine archaism?” Why have 
two genders here? To me it seems that Avestan here, as often 
elsewhere, shows innovation in having a masculine noun. 

The nom. vahs certainly connects nicely with L vox but 
differs from Gk op-a o7t-a Cep-os ett-os) and contrasts with 
Toch A wak and B wek. So, some branches decided to keep 
the ending -s which then coalesced with the final consonant 
and others dropped it. But unless we have PIE itself we may 
conjecture to our heart’s delight but never really know. 

d) In among Schmitt’s later examples is the Av tarsu 
‘dry’, cognate with Gm purzu ‘dry’ and, of course, S trsu 
‘thirsty’ (pl8). It is quite probable that, as Schmitt writes (also 
EWA 1991, 9), this meaning ‘dry’ is original and ‘thirsty’ 
secondary. But who shall bet his/her life on this? 

Here we have many additional interconnected facts. 
Vedic has dhdnu, dhanva also for ‘dry land’ and suska ‘dry’: 
the former are not found in Iranian, the latter appears as AV 
buska-. Sanskrit has the verb dsus > susyati ‘becomes/is dry’ 
also ‘languishes’ and Avestan the verbal stem haos- ‘being 
dry’. 


168 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

But Sanskrit has also the verb trsyati ‘thirsts’ (causative 
tarsayati, etc etc). This is present in several IE branches, with 
the same meaning (e.g. L torrere ‘thirst’, Gothic paursjan 
‘thirst’) but is not found in Iranian at all. Thus tarsu stands 
isolated by itself! Schmitt does not mention this simple fact. 
But he does, after many more examples, bring in the Av verb 
par s t- ‘to fight’ saying it is absent in Vedic (pl9). This is 
prejudiced selectivity again because Vedic has prt ‘fight’ and 
pnana ‘striving’. This appears in Avestan as pdsand - : b u t 
how does this derive from pardtP How does pardt- produce 
pdsand - ? Must we not suppose that here we witness (el7) 
two lines of development later (not earlier) than Vedic? 
I certainly thing so. Furthermore, Vedic has the verbs prtan- 
yati and (denominative) prtana-yati. And in all these Avestan 
lexemes the retroflex/sonorant r has been lost - something 
grossly ignored by mainstreamers like Beekes and Schmitt. 

e) This kind of selectivity is shown in many more cases. 
E.g. the Av rridPti ‘death’ is derived by Schmitt from PIE 
*mr-ti and equated with L mors and set against S mrtyu (pi9). 
But S does have mrti ‘death’ as well; this is found in post- 
Vedic texts. However, to take an analogous case, prasnd 
appears in Vedic texts only with the meaning ‘question’; but 
it appears later in the sense ‘turban’ which links up with Gk 
pleko, L plect- and Gm flehtan, all ‘knit, plait’! Consider also 
that kesa ‘hair’ (as an independent stem) does not appear in 
AVbut kesin appears in the early 3.6.6 etc. while -kesa itself 
does appear as second member in a compound. Nobody 
could claim that prasna and kesa were not in Vedic: thanks to 
other evidences all we can say is that they were not used in 
the RV. The same holds for mrti. Consequently Schmitt’s 
example is utterly pointless, based on biased selectivity. 

11. We could examine many more examples from 
Schmitt but I shall take up only two — for different reasons, 
(a) The cognates S midha ‘reward’ Av mizda (=Gk misthos 
ptoGbs) (p6) and (b) S snavan ‘sinew’ and Av snduuar 3 (pl6). 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / l69 


a) This cognation midha/mizda is important for Schmitt 
because he thinks that is shows an irreversible movement 
from archaic Av rriizda to S innovative midha (p23, note 13). 
As usual, in his presentation he drags in PIE, Ilr and PIr, none 
of which are attested anywhere, and thus “proves” that the 
morpheme z in Avestan is original and therefore Sanskrit dh 
was, according to the mainstream Doctrine, borrowed from 
Dravidian. (It never occurs to mainstream theorists that this 
method is utterly unscientific, not to say ludicrous or 
dishonest since PIE etc are sheer conjectures of modern 
scholars.) 

For here we must consider also the cognation S vrddha 
(< vrdh+ta ppp, like buddha < budh+ta etc) and Av idrd-z-da 
‘grown’. The root V vrdh ‘growing’ appears in Av as var'cl. 
but here too the ppp has -z-. Is this original too?... And for S 
buddhi (< budh+ti) ‘the state of wakefulness and awareness’ 
Av has -busti-: here also the sibilant is not original, given the 
root-stem bud-/bao8-\ Yes there are the “laws” of mutation 
whereby -gd- > -zd- and -dd- > -zd-, but what of bud/baud/ 
bao8- > bus-ti and so many other anomalies? And how is -z- 
original since it is the end-result of a mutation?... These very 
changes into -zd- show that the - 2 - is not original. If this is so, 
then why not rriizda too?... Avestan has abundance of sibilants 
and affricates which, though not allophones, often 
interchange as in zanu- (=S janii) ‘knee’ having Abp znubiias- 
cit. 

And if we go a little further, we find more incongruous 
facts. (1) S ylih (or 'Irih') ‘licking’ has ppp lidha (as with 'Imih 
‘shedding water’ >midha). But Av has preserved little beyond 
raezaite ‘(s)he licks’ (with N Persian lis-). Greek has leichei 
tercet ‘(s)he licks’ and many derivatives but no * lis ch/ leis ch- 
(as in mi-s-thos). (2) Then 'lih ‘striving for’ > ppp ihita- Av 
iziia-/iziieiti has - 2 "- for S -h- and Gk icha-/ichai-no T^a-/txaivco 
(but, again no *isch -) and turning the verb into one of the -n- 
classes! (3) 'Isnih ‘becoming oily, loving, attached’ has ppp 
snigdha ‘sticky’. Avestan has snaeza- but little else; in fact, 


170 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

it does not appear in Beekes’ Av root-list-(1988) but Kellens 
(1995) gives it as snij- ‘neiger’ French for ‘to snow’.. Greek 
has neipheiveu per (and niph-') ‘snows’ but, again, little other 
than niph a- ‘snow-flake’. In fact all IE branches have very 
little other than some basic forms meaning ‘snow’ or ‘rain’. 
No Gk *nei/ni-s- (as in mi-s-thos). 

Consider another case: S nida ‘nest’, Arm nist, L nidus, 
Gm nest, Middle Irish net etc. Here it is thought that the origin 
was PIE *ni-sed- ‘sit, rest down’. The noun-cognation is not 
attested in Avestan despite the verbs {had-') nishida-, in 
hazdyaop (note the sprouting of -z- from nowhere!), or 
nisaSay-. Sanskrit has many derivatives from nisad- and nisid- 
(e.g. nisad(-ana) ‘sitting (down)’, nised-ivas ‘who has sat 
down’ etc), but linguists think that nidd came from IE *nizdd- 
(> nizdd-), from a hypothetical “zero-grade *-sd-" of the root 
*(ni-)sed- (Fortson 2004: 73). Sanskrit has no trace of such a 
zero-grade - nor any other one of the ancient IE tongues 
(except Gm ne-st and Arm ni-st)\ Thus we are asked to believe 
that although Sanskrit almost everywhere displays an 
unparalleled retentive power, here it has lost the verb-stem 
and has preserved only the prefix ni- and the end of the stem - 
d turned into retroflex -d- under the influence of Dravidian, 
since IE had no retroflex consonants according to the Theory. 

Now we know from attested forms that in Sanskrit, final - 
h in noun-stems mutates into velar k/g (while initial 
consonant is aspirated - as in duh ‘milking’ > dhugbhis); or 
into retroflex t/d as in lih Ticking’ > -lit and -lidbhis for 
madhulih ‘bee’. 

Thus Sanskrit is quite consistent regarding 'llih > lidha 
and other derivatives, from the available evidence, which is 
more than can be said of Avestan and Greek. Root-noun snih 
‘dampness, moisture’ has Ns snik- so this too is consistent 
C \1 snih > sni-g-dha). Root-noun mih ‘mist’ has no decisive 
attestations but the root V mih has both velar k/gh and retroflex 
dh : meghamana and midhvams- but all root nouns in -h have 
-d- before the middle endings with -bh-. And the only dental 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 171 

-t-su in Lp is thought to have been -t (Macdonell 1916: 56, 
§81). 

Of course, the presence of -z- in Av mizda is supported by 
Gk mistbos, Gm mizdo and SI mbzda. However, this does not 
indicate a movement out of Iran into Saptasindhu nor an 
irreversible process. Sanskrit has Ih as alternative to dh so that 
midha is found as milha also. Now, an original, say, *-o- 
which would give dha/lha could well have given -zd- and with 
mispronouncement and simplification -sth- or any other 
similar conjunct. * 7 

One more point. The stem mizd-/misth- etc in all the other 
branches have no primary cognates nor roots. Greek has 
misthdo T engage one for payment’ but this comes from 
mistho-s rather than the other way round. The other branches 
have neither verb nor nouns related. Only Sanskrit has 'Imih > 
mehati, fut meksyati and ppp midha which is the same form as 
that of ‘reward’. On the one hand it is very difficult to see how 
the two meanings ( midha ‘contest, prize, striving’ and mehati 
‘urinates, sheds water’) relate. On the other, five other 
branches have the cognate verb for ‘urinating’ with a sibilant 
or affricate or velar: Av maeza'ti, Arm mizem, Gk omichein, 
L meieze/mingere, Gmn migan Lith misti, SI mizati and Toch 
miso. The Sanskrit verb has the Gk -ch- in me-h-ati and the 
Gm and L -g- in the Middle ptc me-gh-amana or in the 
Sigmatic aor ami-k-sat and of course its mi-dh-a but not a 
sibilant 8 . Furthermore Greek has omichle ogi^Mi ‘cloud mist’ 
(< omich-) and Sanskrit has mih- (root-noun) and mihika 
‘mist’ and megha ‘cloud’. But all others lose the /h/ of the 
verb-stem: Av maeyoc (=S megha-'), Arm meg, Lith migla, SI 
mhgla. n So we have quite a mixed salad of stem-endings. 


1 It is of humorous interest that Shakespeare has Kent in King Lear (2.2. 35) 

call a nefarious character “thou zed, unnecessary letter”! 

8 Note the inconsistency, not to say mess, with regard to the “law” of 
palatalisation and tire division into safe m and centum groups. Latin (cmtuni) has 
the affricate -z- as well as velar -g-\ Toch ( centum ) has palatal -s-; Av, Lith and SI 
(sflSm) have velars as well! Sanskrit ( satdm ) has no palatal! 



172 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

There is no reason or consistency in all- this. They are all 
related, obviously, but how?... 

From the available actual evidence it is highly doubtful 
that Av mizda is the prior or closer to the original form and, 
whatever be the case, it does not show a movement of IAs 
from Iran to India. 

A final point. It is taken for granted that PIE had no 
retroflex (= ‘cerebral’ in the Indie tradition) consonants. But it 
is accepted that it had f and ra. If PIE had these two retroflex 
sounds why should it not have the others, i.e. the five 
consonants found in Sanskrit?... It is only the highly defective 
reconstructions that forbid it because of the now discredited 
Aryan Invasion Theory which was the unacknowledged 
basis of the reconstructions. The AI Theory has been 
abandoned (‘Immigration’ replacing now ‘Invasion’) but the 
linguistic superstructure remains intact and dominant. Yet, H. 
Hock stated succinctly that “retroflexion is found in 
many European forms of speech” (1991: 78). And no 
linguist disagrees. So there is nothing very exotic or 
Dravidian about this phonological phenomenon in Europe 9 . 

b) Schmitt rightly points out that Avestan retains the 
heteroclitic snauuar e ‘sinew’ {-r/n- stems like S aha-r/n ‘day’) 
against the S sndvan which is declined like other neuter nouns 
in -an. True, few traces of heteroclitic stems remain in Sanskrit 
compared to Hittite, which has many, but few with cognates in 
the other branches, and it does not have this particular stem. 
However, a-snavi-ra ‘without sinews’ ( Isa Up. 86) is 
probably not one of them; this is most probably an adjective 
with the suffix -ra like dva-ra, ug-ra, kru-ra etc. Sanskrit has 
also sndyus and (later) snasa for ‘sinew, tendon’, so it should 


9 MacDonell, precursor of many adherents to the mainstream linguistic 
Doctrine wrote: ‘'The cerebrals [= retroflexes] are entirely secondary, being a 
specifically Indian product and unknown in the Indo-Iranian period. They are 
probably due to aboriginal, especially Dravidian influences” (1916:8). Nobody 
knows what Indo-Iranian was like. No aboriginal or Dravidian influences are 
observable in the retroflexion of “many European forms of speech”. 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 173 


not be surprising that *snavar (or whatever) did not make it 
into the Vedic texts. (The word kesa ‘hair’ also is not found in 
the 7?Vbut the adjectives kesin (early 3-6.6 etc) and kesavant 
(10.105.5) do appear there). That Sanskrit did have it is 
indicated by the presence of cognates in other Indoaryan 
branches: Pali nharu (as Schmitt notes); Prakrit nharu\ 
Nepali nahar, also, most telling, Marathi savar ‘muscle, 
sinew’. 

Obviously this situation can hardly mean that Avestan is 
more archaic or, much more, that the IAs came to 
Saptasindhu from Iran. 

Vedic nr and nara and PIE* h 2 ner (?)i 

12. On the contrary, apart from the evidence presented so 
far here, the examination of the phonology of the Vedic and 
Avestan would confirm in numerous instances the posteriority 
of Iranian and the Avesta itself. Having examined the nominal 
stem pitr, let us now look at the sonorant r and the stems nr 
and nara. 

(el8). The PIE reconstruction of this stem for ‘man’ is 
*h 2 ner. This is given to explain the a- in Gk a-ne-r and anar 
in Phrygian, while Oscan has ner-um (Roman name of Ner- 
o), Welsh ner, Albanian njer. Armenian air and Avestan nar-/ 
na-. Vedic has both nr and nara. In other words no other IE 
branch western or eastern has a stem with an- (Arm air is 
close). 

Let us know look at the incidence of nr and nara in the 
RV. IE linguists comment profusely on nara and hardly ever 
on the declension of nr as if nara is primary and nr an 
anomaly to be consigned to non-existence. It is yet another 
paradox that IE linguists refuse to face squarely. The paradox 
consists in the simple fact that while the incidence of nara and 
nr is spread across all the Mandalas, the RV has only two 
compounds with nara+ and more than 15 with nr+. 

If, as the received doctrine has it, nara (< *IE h peV.) is 
older than nr and nr is an IA innovation, or whatever, but, in 


174 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

no way, the origin of nara, then we should find in the RV 
more compounds with nara+ as first member. But the 
opposite is true, as shown by Lubotsky’s Concordance... 
There are only two nara- compounds: nara-samsa ‘men’s 
desire/praise’ (it is an epithet of Agni, occurring twice in Bk 
2, once in Bk 3, once in Bk 7: i.e. only 4 times in early and 
middle) and seven times in the late Books); narestha- 
‘sought/worshipped by men’ (only once in 4.33-8a) - a total 
of 12. As a list of all the nr- compounds would be too long, I 
give a selection: nrcaksas ‘watching men’ (more than 10 
times spread in all Mandalas); nrjlt ‘conquering men’ 
(2.21.1b); nftama ‘most manly’ (17 in early and middle Bks 
and 10 in late); nrpati ‘men’s lord’ (9 in early Bks, 8 in late 
ones); nrpatni (1.22.11b); nrpesas ‘man’s beauty/form’ 
(3.45); nrvat ‘having men’ (16 in early and middle Bks, 6 in 
late ones); nrsadana ‘men’s assembly/residence’ (3 early, 
3 late); nrhan ‘man-slayer’ (4.3.6d; 7.56.17c); to these 
should be added nrbahu, mmadana , nrvahana, etc: a total 
of over 90. 

Thus we have a total of 12 occurrences for nara- 
compounds and more than 90 for nr-compounds. 

Here, one might argue that the older stem nara is falling 
in desuetude while the younger nr ascends in frequency. But 
what we find is that in post-rigvedic texts the nr-compounds 
decrease and the nara ones increase dramatically: e.g. nara- 
kdka, ‘crow-like man’, nara-ta/-tva ‘manhood’, naradeva 
‘king, men’s god’, naranatha and narapati ‘king, men’s 
lord’, narayana ‘man-drawn cart’, naradhi-pa/pati ‘king’, 
narottama ‘best of men’ etc etc. 

Then OAv has ndrdbiias-ca (YAv ridrdbiio). Here the -drd- 
seems to reflect -r-. Sanskrit has no narebhyas for Dp but only 
nfbhyas in early and late Mandalas; in fact all oblique cases 
have the stem nr- (Ac nfn, Ins nfbhis, Ab nfbhyas, gen 
nrnam, L nfsu - all p); in post-rigvedic texts naram is also 
found. 

Moreover, the forms nar-a, nar-ya, ‘heroic, human’ nar-a 
‘human’, nar-i ‘woman’ etc, can be seen as quite normal 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 175 


derivatives, primary or secondary (r —> guna ar and vrddhi 
ar). Consequently, nr is the prior form and *h 2 ner is utterly 
irrelevant. This Av nar- would seem to correspond to the 
derivative nar-a. Although S r does sometimes appear as 
arO)- in Avestan, the usual correspondence is Sr 0 : e.g drk-/s, 
ddr^-s-; prt, pdr’t-; mrta, imr'ta- etc. 

Phonological changes favouring Vedic anteriority. 

13. As we saw earlier in §2, the sonorant rin Sanskrit and 
its mutations in Avestan is the first example of phonological 
change used by comparativist Beekes in the early pages of his 
Avestan Grammar (1988) to show that many words in this 
language had “more archaic forms.” He then took on the 
poetic metres and subsequently dealt more extensively with 
other phonological changes. Indeed, if one looks at any 
Avestan Grammar (Jackson 1892, Geiger & Kuhn 1903, 
Spuler, ed, 1958, Hoffmann 1987, etc), one will discover 
very soon numerous similar mutations showing, like the 
aspects we have so far examined, that Sanskrit, generally, is 
indeed more archaic. I shall present only a few cases 
because after a while the exercise becomes tedious. 

(el 8) Ns ending for masculine in Avestan is -3 and -6: 
e.g. OAv va&)/vasb ‘willingly’ (= S vas- ‘wanting’), hazd/hazo 
‘might (= S sahas), sard/sard ‘head’ (= S sir as) etc. So also 
pronouns: e.g. kd/kd ‘who?’ (= S kas), }d/yo ‘who’ (S yas). 
However Avestan has kas-ca/cit ‘who-ever’; yas-ca ‘he who’; 
even has -cit (= S sab > sa/so) ‘he’. Surely this indicates 
that the -as ending is original in Hr and was mostly lost in 
Avestan ... 

And if original here, why not original elsewhere? There is 
no trace of -os in Sanskrit or Ilr. On the contrary, Sanskrit -a 
often turns into -o in Romani or Gypsy (as well as in Avestan): 
e.g. S smasru > Gyp sosa, ‘beard’ S sasa > Gyp sosoi ‘hare’, S 
khara > Gyp kher ‘donkey’, S jana > Gyp jeno ‘person’ (both 
-e/o) etc. But we find a similar process in English also: OE 
bald, baaian, faran, fram, hat, hal, ham > Mdn English bold, 
bathe, fare, from, hot, hail, home (etc, etc). 


176 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

(e20) Beeks accepts that Sanskrit-retains the more 
archaic form in many more cases, He writes, for instance, 
that Avestan has long u for short “but precise rules cannot be 
established” (1988: 42): e.g. drujo, drujdm (S drub-'), yujdn- 
yuxta (S yuj-) etc. So also i for short: e.g. Isti (S isti), vis- 
(S vis), vispa (S visva) etc. All these examples are in Old 
Avetan, as are several cases of shortening internal -a-: e.g. 
nana (S nano), yavat (S yavat) etc. 

(e21) S -a- often appears as 5/i: e.g. yam = OA v ydm/yim, 
etc. Then 

(e22)S -e- appears not as e or ei/ai but -oz-: e.g. S ye = yoi 
Cyaeca), gave = gavoi, bastebhyas = zastabya etc. 

(e23) We find an epenthetic nasal and clusters ng, ngr, 
dng, dngh, nghu (LAv rjh): e.g. jangbati (S = gam-/gant-), 
mar\ha (= S manasa), mdngbi/meqhi- (S man-), Gs of m. 
pronoun yer\he besides yehe (= S ydsya), also Abs f. yet] hat 
and loc yerjhe (S yasyds, yasydm), vanhah- besides vahyah- 
(=S vasiyas), and so on and so on. 

(e24) There are many more like abhl = Av a'(3 i ‘unto, to’; 
sdwa = ha u rva ‘whole’; tyaja ‘relinquishing’ = Av ‘fryejo (and 
a = e) ‘destruction’; vaktra = vahddra ‘word’; yahvi = yezfvi 
‘young one’ (f.), etc, etc. Or -ya = l and -va = u as in S 
manyamdna- ‘thinking' = ma'nimna; tdmasvantam = 
tamanhuntdm, etc, etc. 

Parallels in poetic metres. 

14 It is difficult to see, after examining all these 
phonological devolutions in Avestan, how comparativists 
like Beekes and Schmitt can claim that Avestan is more 
Archaic than Sanskrit 10 . However, there is another type of 
evidence demonstrating the posteriority of Avestan. 

On pages 5-8 Beekes (mostly following Monna 1978) 
analyses the structure of the five GaGas, ascribed by tradition 


10 But not all make this claim. Iranianists Humbach and Hoffmann do not, as 
far as I have seen. 



VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 177 


to ZaraGustra himself and constituting the oldest part of the 
Avesta. The five GaGas comprise altogether Yasnas 28-34 and 
43-53, excepting 52. This becomes the basis of the division of 
the language into Old or Gathic Avestan and Late or Young 
Avestan. (See also Watkins 2001: ch 21.) 

Y(asnas) 28-34 constitute the 1st GaGa Ahunavvaiti and 
have stanzas of 3 lines, the norm line being 7+9 syllables with 
some (deliberate) deviations (i.e. 6/7 +8/9/10) in all Yasnas. 
The stanza structure is thus 3 X 16. (This resembles the 
rigvedic Mahapankti which is 6 X 8.) 

Y 43-46, 2nd GaGa Ustavaiti, have stanzas of 5 lines, the 
norm being 4+7 syllables. Here too are some deviations of 3/ 
4 + 7/8. (The structure of 5 X 11 resembles the rigvedic 
Atijagati or Sakvari.) 

Y 47-50, 3rd GaGa Spdnta.Mainyu, have stanzas of 4 
lines, the norm being'4+7 with some deviations of 3/4/5 + 6/7/ 
8. This structure (4 X 11) resembles the rigvedic Trstubh, 
which, however has the caesura after the 7th syllable. 

Y 51, 4th GaGa Vohu.xsaBra, has stanzas of 3 lines the 
norm being 7+7 with only two deviations of 6+7. This 
structure (3 X 14 or 6 X 7) has really no strict equivalent in the 
Z?Hbut resembles a catalectic Mahapankti. 

Y 53 “presents more difficulties than the others’ 
(Beekes, p 7) because it has a mixed, rather complex metre. 
It has sequences of 7 syllables interspersed with lines of 5 
syllables or lines of 7+5 and 7+7+5 with negligible 
deviations (Beekes, 7-8). The structure can be 12, 12, 19, 19, 
or 12, 12, 7, 12, 7, 12. There is nothing exactly equivalent in 
the RV but obviously it approaches the Atisakvarl or Atyasti 
or Atidhrti mixed stanzas. 

A. MacDonell examines the Vedic metre in his Vedic 
Grammar (1916: 436-447) and points out that there are 
similarities in the structure of the two traditions without 
analyzing them too thoroughly. It is his text that I consulted in 
detail. Now, it is obvious that the third GaGa Yasnas 47-50 use 
the Trstubh stanza which has 4 lines of 11 syllables. The 


178 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Gathic stanza has the caesura after the 4th syllable while the 
Vedic one has the caesura after the 7th. The Trstubh is the 
commonest and one of the very oldest stanzas, found in about 
two fifths of the RV. This and the Gayatrl stanza (3 lines X 8 
syllables), which is just as old and the second commonest one, 
and forms one quarter of the RV Samhita. This is found in 
some post-GaGic parts of the Avesta. 

(e25) However, of interest to us are the other stanzas, 
starting with the 1st GaGa and the structure of 3 X 16. This 
corresponds to the rigvedic Mahapankti (strictly 6X8). The 
importance of this lies in the incidence of the rigvedic stanza 
in Mandalas 1 (only the last hymn, 191), 8 and 10. 

Y 43-46 have the structure 5X11 which corresponds to 5 
Trstubh lines, all with the caesura after the 4th syllable as in 
the first verse; but this is, in fact, the structure of the Atijagatl 
or Sakvari stanza, as termed by the ancient metricians. This 
stanza occurs in both early Mandalas (6.2.11; 4.6 etc; 7.50.4) 
and late (5.2.12; 10.115.9). 

Y 47-50 have, as was said already, the Trstubh stanza 
which occurs with great frequency in all the Mandalas. 

Y 51, the 4th GaGa, with its 3 X 7+7 has no exact 
equivalent in the RV but does resemble the catalectic 
Mahapankti. 

Finally, Y 52, the 5th GaGa, with its longest and slightly 
complex stanzas of 12, 12, 19, 19, or 12, 12, 7, 12, 7, 12 
approaches the rigvedic mixed, complex stanza of Atisakvarl 
(5 X 8, 12, 8) or Atyasti (2 X 12, 3 X 8, 12, 8) or Atidhrti 
(11, 16, 2 X 8, 7, 11, 7). These too occur only in the late 
Mandalas 1, 8, 9, 10. 

Thus, again, if the IAs had separated from the common Hr 
community, the early rigvedic hymns should have all the 
corresponding stanzas from the old GaGic yasnas, i.e. the 
Mahapankti and the mixed ones; but, these are absent from 
the early Mandalas. On the contrary they are found in the later 
hymns. This means that the Avesta, the older parts of it, were 
composed after the corresponding metres had been developed 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 179 


in the RV. In other words, this evidence adds to the 
indications that the Iranians branched off from the 
Saptasindhu - after the Kanva hymns in Bk 8. 

Sarasvati and Hara x vaifi 

15. There are many more interesting aspects we could 
look at but enough has been adduced. If one is not convinced 
by the evidence presented thus far, then nothing short of a 
miracle would produce conviction. Here I shall deal with 
one final case, that of the much discussed Sarasvati / 
Harcfvaiti. 

First, let me recount the details of Vedic Sarasvati which 
even vedicists disregard and sidestep with the deliberate, 
active ignorance that characterizes many mainstreamers 
when their dearmost and unquestioned ideas are doubted by 
non-mainstreamers. Sarasvati is the name of a large river, a 
goddess and a celestial stream. The river is mentioned in all 
books except the fourth and almost everytime it is a very 
large river that nourishes the people (usually the tribe of the 
Purus but not exclusively) inhabiting the regions adjacent to 
its course: RV 6 . 6 1, an early hymn, stresses this; as (6.52.6) it 
is fed by three or more other rivers 2.41.16, a middle hymn, 
calls Sarasvati ‘best river, best mother, best goddess’; late 
hymns 10.64.9 and 10.177 call upon her as great and 
nourishing, providing sustenance and prosperity. Then, the 
White Yajur Veda (34.11) states that it is augmented by five 
tributaries! 

An important point is that the river is said to flow “pure 
from the mountains to the ocean” (7.95.2). Various doubts 
have been raised regarding this version but now many 
archaeologists say that the river flowed down to the ocean 
before 3600 BCE (Possehl 1998; Lai 2002; Allchin B 1999) 
and scientists have traced the full course with satellite 

11 I ignore Lawler’s article in Science 2011 (332:23) ‘In Indus times the 
river did not run through it’ since it is now disputed by several geologists and 
hydrologists in India. 



180 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

photographs (Sharma et al 2006). Danino .gives the full story 
and adduces the examinations of the underground water- 
deposits (2010) 11 . 

But archaeologists tell us also that the river dried up 
completely c 1900 BCE due to tectonic adjustments, shifts of 
river courses and other climatic changes (Rao 1991; Allchins 
1997; et al). Due to the subsequent desiccation of the region, 
the inhabitants moved eastward. 

Yet, the mainstream Doctrine would have us believe that 
the Indoaryans arrived from Iran in this deserted region c 
1700-1500, settled here and composed hymns praying to and 
praising a dried-up river as the “best river” - while the natives 
had left! This is not merely unreasonable but utterly absurd. 
But the Doctrine has even subtler aspects. Some linguists 
claim that the name Sarasvatl was given to this river (its 
desiccation notwithstanding) in memory of the Arachosian 
river Hara*vaiti (in Iran) which the Indoaryans had left 
behind. Here now we have, beyond absurdity, both inanity 
and dishonesty. For how could the IAs give the name of their 
cherished river to one which had dried up? 

Please, consider another fact. The Sarasvatl is fed, as was 
said, by at least three (possibly more) rivers and is ‘swollen’ 
pinvamana (6.52.6); moreover, it is endless, swift-moving, 
roaring, most dear among her sister-rivers and, together with 
her divine aspect, nourishes the Indoaryan tribes (6.61.8-13). 
How could such attributes be given to a dried-up river?... 

Thus we must take it that in all the books of the RV, early 
and late (10.64, 177), the Sarasvatl is a mighty river and even 
in the third millennium, according to Archaeology, hundreds 
of communities and some cities flourished along its banks - 
until the eventual drying up c 1900. Consequently it is totally 
impossible that tribes of immigrants could come and settle in 
the arid area and write poetry praising a river that no longer 
flowed. 

16 . But what of the Iranian name Harcfvait# 

This name appears in the first chapter of the Videvdad 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 181 


along with placenames Haetumant (=Helmand), Mauru or 
Margu (= Margiana), BaxSi or dhri (=Bactria) etc and, of 
course, IlaptahrJndu. 

Haraxvaiti means simply ‘one who has harah- . But 
Harafy- or Hara x - is a stem entirely isolated in Avestan: it has 
no cognates, no other related lexemes. 

This fact is extraordinary when contrasted with Sanskrit 
saras and Saras-vatt Because the Sanskrit word sdras has a 
host of relatives and can be derived directly and very lawfully 
from a root ( dhatu ). The root is Vsr and in the ancient 
Dhatupdthas (=lists of root-forms and their meanings), it is 
given as class 1 (sr > sar-a-ti) and class 3 (sr > si-sar-ti) both 
meaning ‘movement’ gatau. The latter one is found only in 
Vedic texts. Modern philological studies suggest movement 
of water, ‘flowing, rushing, leaping’. 

But the wonder of wonders is that this has many 
derivatives in Sanskrit and many cognates in other IE 
branches. In Sanskrit the verb is found conjugated in both 
classes. Its cognates appear in Gk hallomai, L salio, Toch B 
salate - all ‘leap’. The dhatu has also many nouns like srt, 
spa, srti, srtvan and sara. sarana, saras, sarit, sdra etc, etc. 
There are also cognates in Greek, like helos ‘swamp’ and 
heleios (S = sarasyd) ‘of/from swamp’. 

But nothing, not one cognate, in Avestan other than the 
lonely and pitiful *harah-\ 

Observe now two absurdities implicit in the Doctrine. 
The Iranians who stayed put in Iran lost their own root *har/ 
*hdr>- or whatever and all derivatives, while the IAs who 
moved further away retained this thoroughbred IE root and 
all its ramifications. And then they gave the name Sarasvati 
(with the change of ha > sa) not to a large river like the Indus 
but to a dried-up stream in memory of the Haraxvaiti in 
Arachosia! Or, an even more incredible scenario, the IAs on 
arrival at Saptasindhu proceeded to generate out of the Pllr 
*harah stem, verb-conjugations, numerous nouns and 
adjectives and what else, which are by a most happy 



182 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

coincidence cognates with lexemes in other IE branches! 

The only reasonable explanations for this situation is that 

the Iranians had been with the Indoaryans and at 
some unknown date moved out of larger Saptasindhu west 
and north into Iran. 

Expansion and migration of Vedic tribes. 

17. As we saw in §4 (e6), Saptasindhu is the land of the 
Seven Rivers with Sarasvatl as its axis: in this region, 
according to all vedicists from Max Muller to Keith and to 
Witzel, were composed the hymns of the RV. However, we 
should bear in mind that the number ‘seven’ has magical, 
occult connotations as well and the rivers were more than 
seven. In fact, the region inhabited by the IAs even at the 
earlier stage of the composition of the hymns was much 
larger expanding into all directions but always having as its 
axis the Sarasvatl RV 6.61.9: 

sa no vlsva dti dvisah ‘ [Sarasvati] who follows Cosmic Order 
svasf anya rtavari has spread us [the five Tribes] 

dtann dheva suryah. beyond enmities, and her sister rivers 

as the Sungod the days. ’ 

And in st 12 are mentioned the five tribes. 

See Figure 2 : Map of North India showing Sarasvati and 

the five Vedic tubes in Chapter 3- 

Eventually the expansion moved well out of the larger 
Saptasindhu - especially west and northwest. In 
Baudhayana’s Srautasutra 18.14 'we read of two migrations: 
the eastern one Ayava into the Gangetic plains and further; the 
western one Amavasa comprising the Gandharis, Parsus 
(= Persians) and Arattas (= Ararat, Urartu?). The Persians or 
Iranians record in their texts that they had passed from 
Haptah9ndu and Haraxvaiti. This is the approximate 
situation. 


VEDIC AND AVESTAN / 183 


See Figure 3- Map showing the “seven rivers” and 
Sarasvati; various sites with Harappan artefacts far from 
Saptasindhu; also the two movements eastward by Ayu 
and westward by Amavasu in Chapter 2. 

Concluding remarks. 

18. The conclusion from the evidences discussed in the 
preceding sections is an easy one. The Avesta is post-rigvedic 
and the Avestan language full of losses, attritions and 
mutations. 

The relative earliest possible date for the Gathic Avesta is 
the period of the composition of the late books of the RV as 
many sensible scholars have pointed out (Hopkins 1896, 
Tovadia 1950, Humbach 1991, etc). This is confirmed by the 
correspondence of the proper names (§8) and poetic metres 
(§13). But all this is an approximate, rather general estimate. 
We can be much more specific thanks to several linguistic 
studies after 1980. 

There are 59 common Sanskrit-Avestan words examined 
in §§6-7 which occur in post-rigvedic texts. Of these 59, 14 
are, according to Lubotsky (2001), loanwords into Indo- 
Iranian. All these 14 are found in post-rigvedic texts. This 
means that either they were borrowed independently by 
Iranians and Indians after the Iranians split off, or that they 
were borrowed after the i? ^composition, during the common 
Hr period in larger Saptasindhu, and the Iranians took them 
along when they moved away northwestward. This is 
supported by the use of the periphrastic perfect which has as 
auxiliary the verb as-/ah- ‘to be’ (see §4). 

However, we found at least 15 common lexical items that 
occur in post-Vedic texts. This would mean that the Avesta 
was composed after the Vedic period - which makes it very 
late. Or it could mean that the words were in Sanskrit even 
during the Vedic period but did not make it into any Vedic 
texts. 


184 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

For the Avesta as we have it, I would settle for a post- 
rigvedic date. This would apply even for its oldest parts, the 
gaOas and the date would be within the late Vedic period. 

Finally, not only was there no Invasion or Immigration 
into Saptasindhu but, on the contrary, after the Vedic 
expansion to the West including Gandhara and Bactria, the 
Indoaryans moved even farther west in small numbers of 
wise men (5.10.6, 10.65.11) to spread the Aryan laws; or 
larger numbers of “heretics” distanced themselves from their 
“orthodox” brethren; or others left to explore and seek new 
opportunities. This northwestward migration would have 
progressed from Bactria rather than Saptasindhu proper. The 
date for these westward movements would be much older 
than is thought and naturally after the melting of the ices. 

So I am inclined to agree with Misra (2005) who put 
the Old Iranian languages on the same level as Middle Indo- 
Aryan - even though Schmitt does not think this serious. 


5 . Indo-European Isoglosses: what 
they (don’t) show us. 


1. Comparativist H.H. Hock set up a diagram showing the 
dialectological view of IE (= Indo-European), which 
shows several isoglosses. He used this to argue against the 
probability of the PIE (= Proto-Indo-European) homeland 
being in Saptasindhu, i.e. the Land of the Seven Rivers in 
what is today N-W India and Pakistan. In his paper, he first 
gives the general background and then the crux of his 
argument. 

“[T]he early IE languages exhibit linguistic alignments 
which cannot be captured by a tree diagram, but which require 
a dialectological approach that maps out a set of intersecting 
‘isoglosses’ which define areas with shared features, along 
the lines of Figure 4. While there may be disagreements on some of 
the details, Indo-Europeanists agree that these relationships reflect a 
stage at which the different Indo-European languages were still just 
dialects of the ancestral language and as such interacted with each 
other in the same way as the dialects of modem languages” (Hock 
1999:13). 


186 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 



o 


n cases; merger of a and o 


r 

t. 


merger of velar and palatal 


fill dividing line, Gen./Abl. merger cm tt > tst > St 

Ruki, satem-assibilation, core area ! ' tt>tst>ts>ss 

tt> tst > tt (or tt reintroduced) 


£ ^ Ruki, satem-assibilation 

transition area 


Figure 4. Hock’s view 


“To be able to account for these dialectological relationships, the 
‘Out-of-India’ approach would have to assume, first, that these 
relationships reflect a stage of dialectal diversity in a Proto-Indo- 
European ancestor language within India. While this assumption is 
not in itself improbable, it has consequences which, to put it mildly, 
border on the improbable and certainly would violate basic 
principles of simplicity. What would have to be assumed is that the 
various Indo-European languages moved out of India in such a 
manner that they maintained their relative position to each other 
during and after the migration. However, given the bottleneck 
nature of the route(s) out of India, it would be extremely difficult to 
do so. Rather, one would expect either sequential movement of 
different groups, with loss of dialectological alignment, or merger 
and amalgamation of the groups, with loss of dialectal 
distinctiveness. Alternatively, one would have to assume that after 
moving out of India, the non-Indo-Aryan speakers of Indo-European 
languages realigned in a pattern that was substantially the same as 
































INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 187 

their dialectological alignment prior to migration a scenario which 
at best is unnecessarily complex and, at worst, unbelievable. The 
‘PIE-in-India’ hypothesis thus runs into severe difficulties as regards 
plausibility and simplicity. By contract, there is no problem if we 
accept the view that Proto-Indo-European was spoken somewhere 
within a vast area from East Central Europe to Eastern Russia.” 
(Hock 1999:16-17) 

2. Hock’s presentation has been used by many writers for 
and against the Out-of-India hypothesis. But before going 
further, let me make three clarifications. 

First, a description of the isogloss: it is a distinctive 
feature, phonetic, lexical or grammatical that is shared by two 
or more dialects or (groups of) languages. Thus, to give an 
example, Greek, Armenian, Avestan, Vedic and Tocharian 
have a prohibitive particle me/ml/ma but other IE 
languages, Anatolian, Slavic, Italic, Celtic, Germanic and 
Baltic have variants of na/ni. This prohibitive (or inhibitive) 
particle is found in suggestions, instructions and commands 
as in u do-not (or, must/should not) say or do something'. So 
here we have two isoglosses shared by different related 
languages and hereby dividing them into two groups. Later 
on I shall deal extensively with this isogloss. 

Second, literally speaking, ‘Saptasindhu’ refers to the 
area of seven rivers and the two valleys of the rivers Indus 
and ancient Sarasvatl from the Himalayas down to the Arabian 
Sea, and extending from the Indus to the Gangetic plain in the 
east. Yet we should bear in mind that archaeology as well as 
many references in the RV(= Rgveda) indicate that the Vedics 
occupied a much larger area both to the west of the Indus 
well into Afghanistan and to south of the Ganges, down to the 
Vindhyas. And this area was populated by the five tribes 
(panca-krsti/-jana-y. the Purus in the central region of the 
Sarasvatl, the Turvasas in the east, the Yadus in the south, the 
Anus in the west and the Druhyus north and north-west. RV 
6.61.9 and 12 indicate with great clarity that the five tribes 



188 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

ipanca jatdhf) have spread east and west beyond (att) the 
seven rivers. The spread to the west would cover Bactria too. 

See Figure 2. Map of North India showing Sarasvafi and thefive Vedic 
tribes in Chapter 2. 

Third, wherever I write of Sanskrit I mean Old Indie or 
Vedic but out of deference to the Vedic tradition which is 
very, very old, I keep the name used by the old native 
linguists. Moreover, I do not regard Sanskrit as preserved in 
the RV or other Vedic texts to be the PIE language. I think PIE 
was a much richer and more powerful language than Vedic 
and what the futile and confused efforts at reconstruction of 
PIE show it to be; Sanskrit is, of course, a language that 
devolved from it as did the other IE branches. But I do think 
and will demonstrate that Sanskrit is closer to PIE and, despite 
its innovations and losses, preserves many more archaic 
features than any other branch. 

3.1 could not locate a monograph study of the isoglosses as a 
subject on its own right although many scholars refer to them 
(e.g.: Mallory J. and Adams P. 2006). The two Russian 
linguists Gamkrelidge and Ivanov (1995) 1 have the whole 
chapter 7 of their opus magnum devoted to a discussion of 
the isoglosses but they list only 16 of them and examine 
several subcategories whose value is doubtful; on this basis 
they divide the IE languages into groups and subgroups and 
have them leave the original homeland in a sequence that 
seems confused and contradictory. (Their choice of Armenia or 
the larger (trans-)Caucasian region as the urheimat is thoroughly 
unconvincing). Szemerenyi (1996) 2 and other IE linguists 
present some or many isoglosses scattered in the pages of their 


1 Hereafter, G&I and page number only. 

2 Hereafter, Szemerenyi and page number only. 



INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 189 

books as they deal with changes and similarities of sound and 
morphology in the IE branches. I have collected a large number 
of them from different publications. 

As said already, many scholars used the isoglosses as an 
aid to determine the PIE homeland: see for instance G&I 
(1995), Winn (1995) 3 , Witzel (2002), Jamison (2006) and 
others. An interesting paper is one by Bridget Drinka in 
which she attacks the Out-of-India hypothesis as expressed 
by Kazanas in the 2002 JIES debate; among other polemic 
weapons, she uses the isoglosses (2009) 4 . In this she utilizes 
fully Hock’s ideas in the article mentioned in §1, above. Her 
main interest lies in a new model of the language family tree 
refined with waves and stratified reconstructions and 
involving cladistics. So before I tackle the isoglosses I shall 
examine some of these other aspects in Drinka. 

I must admit at the outset that I don’t always understand 
fully what Drinka writes and that I don’t think highly of IE 
reconstructions and don’t consider this comparativism as a 
“science”. For instance, terms like “cladogram, phylogenetic” 
etc are borrowed from the biological sciences while “areal, 
stratification” etc are borrowed from Geology 5 . But when I 
meet the term “instantiation” (Drinka, p6) I stop not really 
knowing what to make of it. I find it very difficult to think that 
I am dealing with a science fully grounded in the realities of 
language as we ordinarily know and use it. All these 
specialized terms, the artificial models, the reconstructions 
that exist in no known texts and cannot be verified and the 
endless hypotheses — they all seem to belong to a world of 
airy-fairy speculation. 


3 Hereafter, Winn and page number only. 

4 Hereafter, Drinka and page number only. 

’ Many more arcane terms are used in other studies: ergative, stative, 
aerostatic, proterokinetic, ductus, lenition etc etc — most of them of Greek or 
Latin derivation. 



190 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Moreover, one meets repeatedly references to innovations 
in Drinka (and others) but at no stage are we offered a full and 
convincing explanation of how she has determined what is 
archaic and what is innovative. Other scholars do much the 
same — all in a world of speculation, which, however, is taken 
as reality and they build upon it and “refine” it and present it as 
historical fact! But as Ph. Baldi wrote: “Many points of 
controversy surround the reconstruction of PIE, and indeed 
surround any reconstruction effort. Some are methodological 
questions (for example, how do we distinguish archaisms from 
innovations?); some are philosophical (for example, what kinds 
of evidence are admissible in reconstruction?); some are simply 
differences of opinion based on the preconceptions and 
orientation of the investigator (for example, which is more 
archaic, Hittite or Sanskrit?)” (Baldi 1983, p.14-15, parentheses 
in the original). Nonetheless, these authors offer guesses and 
theories of the type: “Hittite (or Anatolian) seems to be the first 
dialect to branch out from the PIE unity and since Hittite has only 
two genders, the feminine gender in the other IE tongues is 
an innovation”. Ah so! But how do we know that Hittite was the 
first to break off? Ah well, it has archaic features like laryngeals 
(which, we note, exist in no other IE tongue, but exist 
abundantly in the near-eastern milieu where Hittite first appears 
in historical times), only two genders and a simple 
verbal system (which could be the result of attrition and loss), 
the isogloss “r” which marks mediopassive forms of verbs 
(but which appears also in Tocharian in the east and Italic 
in the west and in some degree in Sanskrit and in Celtic), or the 
heteroclitic neuters in -r/n (which, again, appear in 
Latin, Greek, Avestan and Sanskrit), and so on. Therefore, it 
was the first to branch off. So we have a wholly circuitous 
and rather defective thinking. 

Surely, the only way we could be absolutely certain about 
archaisms and innovations would be to have the PIE language 
itself? But this is found in no known documents. 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 191 

4. Defective thinking is shown in at least two other respects: 
one, when an attempt to judge how an innovative move is 
made by means of a parallel from modern times and two, 
when she cites the 2002 JIES debate giving my article and the 
comments of some objectors, Huld 2002, Zimmer 2002 and 
Mallory 2002, but not my reply to them and to the other six 
hostile comments (Kazanas 2003). 

a) In the first instance, she cites P. Trudgill who 
“demonstrates” that innovations, at least modern ones, “do 
not move in steam roller-fashion across the countryside, but 
jump from one large urban center to the next largest (though 
not necessarily contiguous) urban center skipping over the 
intervening territory” (Drinka 12). The example given is the 
spread of the uvular r of Paris to Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, 
Torino etc but not in smaller communities like Osnabriick, 
Luxembourg or Bergamo. 

Well, yes, very good. But this is rather to be expected. 
Smaller communities tend to be more conservative and, 
because of smaller numbers, movement in and out of them is 
less. In addition, which is just as important, we have today 
much faster means of travel — cars and trains and so can 
easily bypass small communities that do not immediately 
interest us. All this was quite different three or four thousand 
years ago when IE tongues were moving towards the form in 
which we first find them. 

So the parallel is quite irrelevant. 

b) I wonder why Drinka ignores rather rudely my ‘Final 
Reply’ which deals with Huld’s and Zimmer’s strange 
objections (Kazanas 2003: §4-6). She cites Huld who wrote 
(2002:356) that IE is a “linguistic concept which demands 
linguistic evidence.” However, I was not writing about “IE”, 
whatever that is, but about the unfounded notion that IAs 
(= Indoaryans) invaded Saptasindhu cl700. What linguistic 
evidence is needed for the facts of the invasion and of the 
date? Linguistics cannot without documentation provide dates 


192 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

in these prehistoric periods. Only Archaeology and related 
disciplines can do this. And Archaeology, Anthropology etc 
tell us in no uncertain terms that there was no significant entry 
into Saptasindhu from 4500 to 600 BCE (Kazanas 2002, 
2003). So how did Sanskrit appear in that region?... I don’t 
suppose Drinka will claim that the dhatus and their primary 
and secondary derivatives and their dizzying inflectional 
system flew in like pollen on the wind? No, it is too absurd. 

Do these eminent linguists know, or do they want to 
know, what was going on in real-life human terms in that area 
at those times, i.e. 1700-1500 BCE? 

There was desiccation and the plains were turning into 
desert as, after earthquakes and other subterranean tectonic 
movements, rivers changed courses, some flowing into the 
Sindhu and others into the Ganges; and hot winds and dust, 
coming from the west, blew over those plains and valleys. 
And archaeologists trace a steady relocation of the 
communities from cl900 BCE as they moved from the once 
fertile region away to the east, the Gangetic basin. Perhaps 
some of these people travelled west and north, met the IEs 
learnt the language and came back and spread it among their 
kith and kin as a panacea against the steady collapse of their 
civilisation? Yes, this is absurd also! 

So how and when did Sanskrit enter into Saptasindhu with 
such force that it sanskritised the whole area and the Gangetic 
plain eastward? 

There is, of course, the new myth that the IAs came in 
waves, in small numbers of peaceful immigrants having 
assumed the culture (i.e. arts and crafts and social habits but 
not the language!) of the natives and so left no traces of their 
entry, as described in detail by Witzel (2005, 2001). How did 
all the waves manage to absorb the native culture 
beforehand? And, more important, how did these “small 
numbers relative to the indigenous population” as S. Jamison 
put it (2006) accomplish the amazing feat of sanskritizing an 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 193 

area as large as France and Germany?... Only conquest and 
coercion could have done this, but archaeologists tell us now, 
again in no uncertain terms, that there was no such (invasion 
and) conquest. And finally, if they left no archaeological 
traces, how do we know they ever immigrated there? Is it not 
very absurd thinking? 

The fact that Zimmer likewise uses linguistic arguments 
(2002:407) throwing in the difficulty of explaining “the 
remarkably archaic features of Old Irish”, if the Celts had 
moved so far from an Indian urheimat (Drinka 29), is really 
neither here nor there. It merely reveals the mainstream 
hollow thinking on this matter. All IE branches preserved 
some archaic features, linguistic, literary and/or social. But no 
comparativist that I know claims that Old Irish has more 
archaic features than other branches. After all, Drinka herself 
couples Hittite and Germanic (not Celtic) as having 
evidences of archaic features (2009:2). Then, Zimmer 
himself writes at the end of his piece that those ancient times 
were difficult and one cannot be certain where the urheimat 
was. Did not Drinka read this? 

The only remotely linguistic evidence of relevance is the 
assertion of the poets of the Rgveda that they and their 
ancestors had always been here, in Saptasindhu (RV 4. 1.3 & 
7.76.4). But see also further down, §18, conclusion III and 
citations from RV and Baudhayana. 

Mallory, yes, takes an archaeological tack and shows that 
potential models of the Out-of-India Theory are improbable. 
I can live with that. What Mallory does not do is to show how 
and when the IAs entered into Saptasindhu and this is what 
concerns me. I have no archaeological training as such but 
did spend considerable time reading Western and Indian 
archaeologists, experts on the Sindhu Sarasvati Civilisation, 
its beginnings and its collapse. However, I have not so 
much time at my disposal as to sit and study the movements to 
and fro across Eurasia of the Germanic, Celtic, Balto-Slavic, 



194 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Italic, Hellenic and other tribes. But I feel certain that the 
movement from Saptasindhu northwestward through Iran 
can be demonstrated linguistically. In due course it may 
even be demonstrated archaeologically and anthropologically 
— except that the dating will be much older than 
indoeuropeanists like to think, probably closer to the Mesolithic 
period rather than the Chalcolithic one. 

5 . Eventually, Drinka resorts to Hock’s figure of the 
isoglosses and his arguments which were presented at the 
beginning of this article, §1, namely that the isoglosses stand 
in a certain arrangement and in certain relationships, shown 
in the dialectological figure. 

If India “were the Urheimat, then these relationships would 
have had to exist in India and would need to have been 
maintained as speakers passed through one of the ‘bottle-neck’ 
routes out of India, a very unlikely occurrence” (Drinka, 3D- But 
Drinka considers this inadequate, since different branches could 
have moved out at different times and then came in contact with 
neighbours at a later time. However, she continues, we must 
take into account “the systematic, layered morphological 
correspondences of Greek and Indo-Iranian” which is part of “a 
stratified model of PIE” and which “cannot accommodate an 
Out-of-India explanation.” For, if we posit an Indian origin for 
Indie languages, “how can we account both for the archaic 
morphological similarities which Sanskrit shares with many IE 
languages (e.g. a use of reduplication in the perfect) and those 
innovative features which it shares only with Iranian and Greek 
(e.g. a productive use of reduplication as an obligatory marker 
of the perfect)?” (p31). 

(And here I would respond with two objections. One, 
how on earth does she term the reduplication for the perfect 
archaic, when neither Hittite nor Tocharian, the most archaic 
branches, according to her mainstream theory, have this? Let 
us be consistent please. Two, how on earth does she know 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 195 

that the “productive use of reduplication for the perfect is an 
innovation and that the relics of the reduplicated perfect in 
Germanic” etc are not indicative of attrition and devolution 
from a richer archaic scheme like that of Greek and Sanskrit? 
See what DiGiovine writes in §18,f, below.). 

Having dismissed as unlikely the scenario of contact 
between Indo-Iranian and Greek “at a fairly late date” in 
order to account for the morphological changes that we 
know, Drinka finds the solution in the South Russian or Pontic 
Steppes. “A much more likely scenario would be to view Pre- 
Indo-Iranian and Pre-Greek as neighbours in the steppes 
themselves, as Anthony (2007) 6 does, and to regard them as 
late migrators. Contact linguistics thus provides crucial 
evidence for the migrationist hypothesis” (p7-32). 

6. Contrary to the different opinion of other thinkers who 
held that the Earth moves (e.g. Plato: Timaios 40B-C), 
Aristotle made the Earth immovable and locked it in the 
centre of the universe surrounded by various spheres of 
supra-lunar celestial bodies. This arrangement, despite 
Aristarchos of Samos who, in the third cent BCE, held that the 
sun stood immobile at the centre while the other planets 
moved round it, prevailed, was perfected by Ptolemy in the 
second cent CE and became the established framework in 
astronomy until the 17th century. In 1543 Copernicus published 
his now famous De Revolutionibus... which placed the sun at 
the centre of the solar system. He was cautious enough to 
dedicate the book to the extremely liberal Pope Paul III 
admitting in his Preface that he might be wrong. Nonetheless, 
the book was placed on the Index in 1576 and thus the 
devout Catholics could no longer read it. 

The savants of that period, churchmen and schoolmen, 
still liked to argue about the existence of general truths or 
their absence and other abstruse metaphysical points like the 


6 Hereafter, Anthony and page number only. 



196 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Almighty’s creation of the world from nothing (creatio ex 
nihilo), the nature of woman (whether animate or inanimate, 
res ‘a thing’) or about the number of angels that could sit on 
the point of a pin. Naturally, they did not want to be pushed 
out of the centre of the universe and their cosy Aristolelian- 
Ptolemaic planetary placement which gave them wealth and 
power for the promotion of knowledge in theological 
disputes as well as for the salvation of sinners, heretics and 
anticonformists to the received dogma, by burning or 
throttling them. So they repudiated all mathematical proofs in 
Copernicus and proceeded to develop new epicycles in the 
Ptolemaic system to counter those proofs. Note that an 
epicycle is a geometric model of some elegance used to 
explain the variations in speed and direction of the moon, the 
sun and the planets, the apparent retrogade motion of the 
planets and observable changes in the distances of the 
planets from Earth, which remained motionless at the centre 
of the revolving Ptolemaic spheres. Even the actual 
observations of Galileo with a telescope 80 years later would 
not make them change their minds: instead, they burned 
Giordano Bruno in Rome early in 1600, hounded Kepler who 
had provided the real, solid evidence for the actuality of the 
heliocentric model and who then lost job and income for 
several years, and confined Galileo until his death in a villa 
outside Florence. And the mainstreamers of those times 
continued to concot new refined models of epicycles! 

7 . I mention this affair because it furnishes such a clear 
parallel to what is happening today. 

I presented Drinka’s thoughts in some detail not only to 
refute her refutation of the indigenist thesis (and her refutation 
of my view in particular) but also to show how IEnist linguists 
use their own epicycles in constantly refining models and in 
modifying notions so that they may not have to remove from 
the centre of the IE scene the basic dogma that the Indo- 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 197 

Iranians moved from the Steppes (or wherever) to Iran, 
whence the IAs moved southeast into Saptasindhu cl700. 
This is explicitly stated by an eminent linguist: 

“At some time in the second millennium BC... a band or bands of 
speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, 
entered India over the north west passes. This is our linguistic 
doctrine which has been held now for more than a century and a 
half. There seems to be no reason to distmst the arguments for it, in 
spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion,” (M.B. 
Emeneau 1954: emphasis added).” 

Note with what cocky assurance this distinguished linguist 
writes about invasion and the Hindu ignorance of it, when, it 
was he who suffered from ignorance, since, as archaeologists 
showed only 12 years later, there had never been an invasion. 

Now, surely, Emeneau is writing about a historical event 
(the entry of bands of IE-speakers into India in the 2 nd 
millenium) on which doubts have been cast. Any reasonable 
historian would be talking not about a doctrine and 
arguments but about facts, data, evidences. So a simpleton like 
me wonders why linguists write about historical events but do 
not adhere to the basic methods and canons of historiographers 
who would not pay much attention to linguistic arguments and 
models but would turn to the hard facts of archaeological and 
anthropological evidences. I wonder also why Drinka cites 
Huld’s supercilious statement that 

“unless one is willing to become conversant with linguistic 
theory, one cannot meaningfully participate in a discussion 
on IE origins.” (p29) 

Surely, to start with, if linguists can intrude so rudely into 
the historians’ domain and make such enormous blunders 
(like Emenau and his collagues), others should be allowed to 
intrude into the linguistic domain.. But the more important 
point is that the subject of “IE origins” has nothing to do with 
linguistic theory. And Huld may be excused writing in 



198 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

2002 but surely Drinka should know that other linguists take 
quite a different view of linguistic theory and historical 
linguistics. Here is one very clear and forceful statement 
published in 2003. 

“Too many comparative historical linguists want to dig up Troy, 
linguistically speaking. They consider it more important that 
comparative historical linguists shed light on prehistoric migrations 
than it shed light on the nature of language change [...] I do not 
consider comparative historical linguistics a branch of prehistory, 
and I sincerely believe that if we cared less about dates, maps and 
trees and more about language change, there’d be more real 
progress in that field.” (Harrison, 2003:23.1) 

I agree fully, of course. He might have added that not 
only do they make no real progress in their field which is 
somewhat messy but their interference has produced a large 
mess in Indology also. 

Under the light of S.P. Harrison’s remarks, I can’t help 
making a comparison between Drinka’s highly speculative 
article discussed in these pages and her excellent paper on 
the Periphrastic Perfect as developed in historical times in 
Europe (Drinka 2001): in this latter paper, she deals with 
concrete facts from welldocumented languages and shows 
how Greek develops this perfect first as passive (or 
intransitive), then active, and then Latin does something 
similar, and subsequently several other IE tongues — all 
these being well-attested late innovations. 

8. Back to our epicycles and models. 

Because, as Harrison says so succinctly, IE linguists do 
not do their job properly and because, as N Kazanas says, 
they do not push aside their doctrine on the IA entry, their 
theory, despite two hundred years of research and study, 
remains patchy and unsatisfactory, full of inconsistencies and 
contradictions. This state of affairs both in language-change 
and in protohistory requires constantly new hypotheses or 
modifications of old ones, which in turn demand fresh 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 199 

revisions (and speculations) — fresh epicycles. 

Take protohistory. In the 18 th and early 19 th centuries 
French first and then English savants declared that the caste 
system in India had been established after an invasion of 
Egyptions who, as conquerors with a priestly class, became the 
Brahmins and Kshatriyas while the natives became the two 
lower castes. (Some thought it was a Mesopotamian invasion). A 
few scholars like Langlois (1833) and Elphinstone (1841) were 
largely against this early Invasion Theory. Then, 1800-1850, 
came several linguists, and especially Max Muller, and 
thereafter we had the AIT (= Aryan Invasion Theory). So the AIT 
was not initially a linguistic theory but “sociological”, we would 
say today, and it was based on nothing except sheer 
speculation. The linguistic theory was built around this. 

In the 1920s archaeologists unearthed the first significant 
and unexpected pieces in urban construction and many 
artefacts of what was first named “Harappan” civilisation. In the 
decades following the 1939-45 war more startling discoveries 
were made. Now, any reasonable historian would have put one 
and one together and come up with ‘two’. But not the linguists: 
they came up with ‘three’! We know of the large Vedic 
literature and, while the RV (=Rgveda ) itself shows no 
knowledge of conurbations, the post-rigvedic texts do speak of 
material constructions — walls, altars, houses —built with 
bricks. Here then was the civilisation of which the postrigvedic 
texts, especially Yajur Veda and Brahmanas spoke 
extensively. And here was an advanced civilisation with writing 
on seals but supposedly without literature — a unique 
phenomenon! No, said the linguists who ruled the roost then — 
the Vedic people were ignorant barbaric nomads not related to 
the Harappan conurbations. So they proceeded to give an 
added twist to their dogma. The Vedics were IE people who 
destroyed the cities of the indigenous people, since, according 
to their (mis-) understanding of the RV, the hymns explicitly said 
that Indra and Agni etc destroyed various purs, which they 
(mis-)translated as ‘forts, towns’ — and continue to do so. 


200 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

(pur incidentally means esoteric, occult, defence: Kazanas 
2009, ch 4). 

We had this version for decades. Then archaeologist G. 
Dales in 1966 showed that there had been no invasion, no 
destruction, no violence. Historians like A Basham accepted 
this early on, but not the linguists. Ten years and more 
afterwards, they continued to write about invasion and the 
enslavement or displacement of the natives (e.g. Burrow 
1975; O’Flaherty (Doniger) 1981; Winn 1995). And then a 
new linguistic model appeared in the 1990s. No, agreed the 
linguists at last, it was not an invasion, it was a peaceful entry 
of IEs! Then, when archaeologists, Western as well as Indian, 
began to shout that there was not the slightest trace of an 
entry of a new people but the culture was developing 
entirely on its own, the linguists produced yet another 
epicycle: now it was waves of immigrants who had already 
adopted the indigenous culture or were so small that they left 
no mark. So now the linguists tell the archaeologists also how 
to do their job! Another epicycle has been produced by some 
Harvard professors regarding the genetic evidence which 
now unequivocally and firmly states that no genes flowed 
into India from the surrounding areas and especially north¬ 
west. They say that a very small number of immigrants could 
bring in the Indoaryan language without showing up in the 
chromosomes! (They, geneticists and linguists both, don’t 
realise how ludicrous this notion is since very few immigrants 
must have had the supernatural powers found in fairy tales to 
aryanise an area as large as Saptasindhu). 

The purely linguistic epicycles are well known to the 
linguists and we don’t need to expatiate on the subject. One 
has only to read Lockwood (1969, 1972) or even Szemerenyi 
(1996) and then Clackson (2007) 7 to see how much the 
theory changed; already Fortson (2004) 8 warns his readers to 
be cautious regarding some aspects in Szemerenyi. 


Hereafter, Clackson and page number only. 

8 Hereafter, Fortson and page number only. 



INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 201 

Though by no means the first, B.W. Fortson provides the 
interesting epicycle concerning the division of the branches 
into satem (Sanskrit, Iranian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic) and 
centum (Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Hittite, Tocharian). 
Until recently it was thought that palatalisation in the satem 
branches was a useful isogloss but now, since the division is 
not so neat and has difficulties, it is said that each satem 
tongue developed palatalisation independently — only to 
generate new difficulties and complications! 

9 . Drinka’s model of language-family tree, as descriptive of 
genetic relations, plus waves which include stratification of 
layers and areal contacts, is another such epicycle. Thus the 
cladogram becomes a three-dimensional model (pp21-22). 
With this model she expects to distinguish various 
morphological similarities (or isoglosses) representing an 
archaic linkage between the IE branches (e.g. iterative, 
intensive affixes and the like) from other similarities 
(or isoglosses) representing later innovations (e.g. the 
development of the imperfect). 

However, as I said earlier (§4) it is wholly hypothetical 
and arbitrary in most cases to assert that a particular feature is 
archaic whereas another is an innovation. By using two more 
epicycles of entirely speculative and arbitrary chronological 
splits of the branches (pp24-25 one by Meid 1975 and another 
by Anthony 2007) she arrives at the conclusion that “the contact 
between Greek and Indo-Iranian implies that Greek did not 
move out of the central region until fairly late” (p25). 

This is arbitrary not only because of the difficulty of 
sorting out archaisms and innovations but also because the 
date of the Greek’s appearance in Greece can be c2200 
or c3000+ (Coleman 2000; Mallory 2001) whereas Anthony 
gives the Greek departure from the central region c2500. 
This date accommodates the late entry of 2200 but certainly 
not the early one of 3000+. 


202 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

It is arbitrary also because if Greek had stayed so long 
with Indo-Iranian in the central region after Balto-Slavic, 
which are satem branches, had left at c2800 (again according 
to Anthony) it should also have palatalisation and be a satem 
tongue like Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian. If it is claimed that 
Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian developed palatalisation 
independently (see §8 end, above), then obviously languages 
could just as easily develop independently other similarities 
and we need not ascribe these to contiguity and long contact. 

I find Drinka’s thesis and model totally unconvincing, as 
shown additionally by what follows. 

10 . On page 7 of Drinka’s paper we find her presentation of 
the formation of the imperfect of the Sanskrit dhatu 
V kr ‘doing, making’, given in the 1 st sing ‘I was doing/ 
making’ - a-krnav-am: here a- is the augment, -krnav- is the 
present stem (when conjugated as 5 th class) and -am is the 1 st 
person sing, termination of the secondary endings: 

Imperfect : akrnavam 

a- krnav- am 
aug + pres stem + sec ending 
(kr + n- infix). 

However, there is something bizarre in the analysis of the 
present stem as “kr + n- infix.” The present stem of the 5 th 
class conjugation does not take an infix -n- (the n is due to the 
influence of r) but two affixes: no for the strong persons (the 
three of the Singular) and nu for the weak ones (all the 
others); the same applies to the formation of the Imperfect. 
So the analytical description is incorrect. 

Here I wonder at the ease with which our scholar writes 
about archaic layers and root forms, about infixes and 
suffixes, about present stems and thematic aorists and about 
stratified temporal and aspectual categories, much of which is 
speculative and dealing with pre-historic aspects not known, 
yet does not seem to know basic elements of Sanskrit grammar, 
namely that the particle is not -n but nu/no and it is 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 203 

an affix and not an infix (the way —« is an infix in dhatus of 
class 7, like V yuj > yu-n-j-mas ‘we join/yoke’). Also, the 
Aorist a-kar-am (Drinka, 7) is a form of the root Aorist of kr 
conjugated as class 2, not 5 (or 8). In Sanskrit one dhatu could 
be and often was conjugated in two and more classes. 

I also wonder how she can be so certain that the 
Imperfect is built on and after the Aorist since the stem (kr-) is 
the same as the Present whereas the Aorist stem undergoes 
ablaut with the guna (= strong) form -ar of the root vowel rbut 
conjugated as class 2! It would seem to me more natural to retain 
the same stem and differentiate with tenninations and augments 
rather than with changes in the stem as well. I am afraid her 
analytical description is both superficial and wrong. 

Here I must take leave of Drinka and her model of 
speculative stratifications. Neither her model nor the 
isoglosses support her Steppe thesis. 

11 . Hock was by no means the first to use the isoglosses as 
tools of protohistoric research to reach the PIE homeland. 

I am taking as another example S.M.M. Winn who 
unwittingly displays the usual blunders, oversights or 
deliberate misrepresentations in the mainstream thinking on 
this subject. He writes: 

“Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian and (probably) Phrygian share an 
interesting isogloss: the use of “r” to indicate the passive forms of 
verbs. This feature, which does not occur in any other IE language, 
is probably an example of the ‘archaism of the fringe phenomenon' 
” (Winn, 324). 

The first thing to note here is that the forms of the verb are 
those of the Middle Voice or of the medio-passive, as 
specialists say. The second is that Sanskrit has an obvious 
trace of this in the 3rd Pi perfect (e.g. tu-tud^re ‘they (have 
been) struck’ or ‘they (have) struck for themselves’). Nobody 
can aver with certitude that this feature, as exhibited in Celtic, 
Italic etc, is archaic. We can just as arbitrarily claim that the -re 


204 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

ending in the Sanskrit perfect is the initial archaic element 
and the other branches’ developments are innovations! 

However, what is much more interesting is the “fringe”. 
Now, Celtic is the western fringe (in Ireland even though 
some might invoke Germanic on Iceland); Tocharian is 
certainly the eastern fringe on the north side. But there is 
arguably nothing “fringe”-like about Hittite (on the north¬ 
eastern quarter of Turkey) nor Italic, since both Spain (Celtic) 
and Greece and Cyprus (Greek) are more southern. However, 
accepting this, we cannot but see, of course, that Sanskrit is 
“fringe” at the south-east comer of the IE greater spread (with 
Tocharian at the north-east corner). So this “fringe” 
phenomenon is quite imaginary — as the map shows. 



Figure 5. 


Here however enter two banes of IE theory — selectivity 
and circuitous thinking. For while IE linguists accept, say, 
Hittite and Celtic at their historical habitats, they do not accept 
Indo-Iranian. They invariably place it in the “centre” because 
it is the only way they can prop their assumptions and theories. 
Here is an example: “We are accustomed to thinking of Indo- 
Iranian as the far southeastern corner of the [IE] speech area, 
but it is abundantly clear that Indo-Iranian spread east (and 









INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 205 

later south) from the Eurasian [=Pontic] steppe” (Ringe 
2004:1122). How is this “abundantly clear”? Ignoring the 
glaring fact that ALL branches were, like Hr, at the centre at 
some time (!), they prevaricate with “Oh, but the general 
Theory says so because of isoglosses, loanwords and 
innovations.” And how do we know that innovations are 
innovations etc? “Oh, because Hittite with its simple verb 
system and other archaisms was the first to move away from the 
Steppe and occupies a peripheral comer.” And so on, round and 
round the mulberry bush. The fact that the Hittites could not 
have been present in northeast Anatolia much before 2000 
whereas the Greek speakers could have been present in 
Greece before 3000 — as archaeologists and historians tell us — 
makes no difference to IE linguists. They must preserve the 
Theory. So, while Celtic and Slavic are placed in their 
historical habitats, even though we know for certain, they 
moved constantly to and fro, yet Iranian and Indoaryan are 
not, because this “is abundantly clear”! This is not scholarship 
but double-thinking if not plain duplicity or self-deception. 

Anyway, Winn seems to take this core-and-peripheral 
division to heart for he serves it to us in slightly different 
terms further down, when he writes about palatalisation: 

“Looking at the geographical distribution of this isogloss, we may 
note its absence from the peripheral languages: Germanic (at the 
northwest limit of IE ...); Celtic (western limit); Italic, Greek and 
Hittite (southern limit) and Tocharian (eastern limit). It is the 
languages at the center that have changed. Here at the core, a trend 
towards palatalisation started; then gradually spread outward. It 
never reached far enough to have any effect on the outlying 
languages” (Winn 326). 

One wonders whether there is something wrong with the 
thinking and seeing of this scholar, because, when one looks 
at the map, one sees at once that neither Saptasindhu at the 
southeast fringe nor the Baltic position in the north are in any 
conceivable way “core”: both are very peripheral, especially 
India. So what is this writer saying or implying?... Nothing. 
This is a classic case of ignorance. For the man deliberately 


206 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

ignores significant parts of the map before his very eyes and 
indulges in some imaginary theory. It is, unfortunately, on such 
instances of deliberate ignorance that the AIT has been 
established in its entirety (— “there was an invasion even if the 
Hindus were ignorant of it!”)- Nor do IEnists take sufficiently into 
account the facts around Modem English. At the core, i.e. the 
United Kingdom, very little change is observed, and that change 
is due to the large influx of people speaking foreign tongues 
(former Afro-Asian colonies) whereas at peripheral regions 
(U.S.A, Australia etc) there are changes in pronunciation, 
spelling, syntax and semantics. 

The plain fact is that nobody knows when, where and 
how palatalisation started and spread — if, indeed, it started 
and spread as the received theory teaches. (Some claim that 
satem is a one-way process: velars become palatals. Yes, 
perhaps so. BUT in Modern Greek we observe an odd trend. 
The word “schoinf ‘rope’, has moved to palatalisation in 
Cyprus being pronounced “shini” but in Greece itself the 
spirant -ch- (=h) has become k and so we have ‘velarisation’: 
we say and write skoini (the -oi- is pronounced as -i-). So 
also others with the same conjunct -sch- like aschemos ‘ugly’ 
etc. But se'ualso Avestan *h becoming Y' (= h v = kti") as in 
od'afna ‘sleep’ (cf Vedic svapna. ) or Harax'a'ti (cf Saravaiti). 
So, never say never! 

12 . S. Talageri attempted to show that, in fact, the isoglosses can, 
as they stand, be accommodated by the Out-of-India Theory 
(2000:266-282). I gather that he repeated this exercise much 
more seriously recently (2008) but I have not seen this. 
I too got carried away and dealt with this matter briefly and 
superficially because I considered it inconclusive and therefore 
irrelevant — and very tedious (2002). Nobody paid the slightest 
attention, as expected. 

A little later, taking as his starting point Hock’s study of 
1999, mentioned in § 1 above, K. Elst wrote a paper dealing in 
greater detail and depth with the same subject (2005). One of 



INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 207 

his more interesting statements is that “Communities in truly 
close interaction, at whichever stage of the development of 
IE, would also develop isoglosses” (p246), i.e. even in late 
and recent periods. He then cites a passage from Hock 
(1999:14) where the eminent comparativist “himself 
unwittingly gives at least one example which doesn’t easily 
admit of a different explanation” (my emphasis). Hock’s 
passage reads: “The same group of dialects [Germanic, 
Baltic, Slavic] also has merged the genitive and ablative cases 
into a single ‘genitive’ case. But within the group, Germanic 
and Old Prussian agree on generalising the old genitive form 
(...) while Lithu-Latvian and Slavic favour the old ablative” 
(square brackets and dots are Elst’s). Then Elst points out that 
Old Prussian, though essentially a member of the Baltic 
family, shared this isogloss of the genitive with Germanic 
since it was very close to the Germans while Lithu-Latvian 
shared the isogloss of the ablative with Slavonic because it 
was in close contact with that. So these are comparatively 
recent phenomena that can be easily diagnosed and, of 
course conflation of cases (and other innovations, I would 
add) continue to occur even in recent history.” Then Elst 
concludes that “the isoglosses discussed by him [i.e. Hock] do 
not necessitate the near-identity of the directional distribution 
pattern of the PIE dialects with that of their present-day 
daughter languages” and so the Indocentric hypothesis is not 
threatened by Hock’s arguments (Elst 2005:246). 

Elst’s paper too received little notice beyond the rather 
contemptuous remarks of S. Jamison who wrote a review for 
the Journal of IE Studies (2006) of the book in which it 
appeared (Bryant & Patton, eds, 2005). 

13 . Elst might have pointed out several other faults in Hock’s 
scheme. 

For instance, Hock says that one entry through the 
mountain passes down into India is easier and simpler than 
one highly compressed exit or many out of the subcontinent. 


208 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

But, surely, this difficulty — one into, rather than many out of 
— applies to all proposed homelands. Even the Steppes have 
a rough terrain with their tundras, rivers and mountains. Then, 
Hock himself has repeatedly stressed the fact that in historical 
times four languages of IA origin left N-W India. One was 
that of the Gypsy emigration in the early centuries CE (Fraser 
1995) which cut right through Europe reaching Britain. The 
other was Gandhari Prakrit spreading into medieval Khotan 
and farther east. The other two are Parya as found in modern 
Uzbekistan and “Dumaki (close to present day Shina)... to the 
outer northwestern edge of South Asia” (Hock 1996:82 and 
1999). So the same could have happened in the remote 
millennia BCE and the IE branches could have left from 
Saptasindhu. And let me here reiterate that I consider Sanskrit 
(or Old Indie) also to be a language that devolved from PIE. 
Furthermore the larger Vedic area (figures 2 and 3) shows 
that languages (and people) left from Bactria! 

But the most important fault lies in his partial (perhaps 
deliberate?) selection of isoglosses. Does he play foul? Well, 
this is suggested by his exclusion of the Tocharian branch with 
the severely lame excuse that “it is difficult to find dialectal 
affiliation” (1999:16). How can a linguist of Hock’s calibre say 
such a thing when all books on IE linguistics (like Winn’s 1995 
publication, cited earlier in §11) mention the isogloss of —re¬ 
marking the mediopassives in Celtic, Italic, Hittite and, perhaps, 
Phrygian and, of course, Tocharian (e.g. G&I, ch7; Szemerenyi, 
242; etc). Moreover, Tocharian has the mediopassive present 
participle with endings -mane/-mdm in common with Sanskrit 
-mana, Greek -meno- etc, and the -a- subjunctive (Winter 
1990:165), also found in Italic, etc: the subjunctive is totally 
absent and the participle very doubtfully present in Hittite. 

So we must wonder why Hock wanted to exclude or push 
aside Tocharian. 

According to the AIT scenario which is the IE Theory with 
the Steppe as the homeland, if, according to Anthony (2007) 
whom Drinka cites, Hittite (=Anatolian) left c4200, then 
Tocharian left c3700 and Italic and Celtic c3000, all in this 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 209 

model which, Drinka says, “integrates archaeological and 
linguistic data, evidence of ancient linguistic and cultural 
contacts” [= ‘interchanges’ is meant, presumably]. But then, 
when and where did the speakers of Tocharian (far east), 
Hittite (centre, south), Italic (west & south) and Celtic (far 
west) meet and mingle to innovate or perhaps reinforce and 
preserve this isogloss -r- of the mediopassive which is 
virtually unknown to the other branches? 

First of all the dates do not favour such a happy 
cohabitation. There are differences of 500 and 700 years 
during which much else could have happened. But, more 
important, the German-speakers moved out at 3300 after the 
Tocharians (at 3700) and before the Italo-Celts at 3000, yet 
Germanic is not graced with this isogloss. But Germanic 
moved in the same direction as perhaps Hittite did for a time 
and as Italic and Celtic certainly did for much much longer. 
Then, the Steppe is not so far from the north-western part of 
Anatolia where Hittite emerges in historical times at about 
1900. So where was it wondering for over two millennia? 

But then again, where was this area of cohabitation or 
close contiguity for Tocharian moving eastward, for Hittite 
moving west and south through the Balkans and eastward (or 
east and south over the Caucasian mountains) and Italic and 
Celtic moving westward and then Italic moving southward 
while Celtic wandered back and forth even as far east, in 
historical times, as the former Hittite (=Anatolian) region in 
Asia Minor (=Turkey, Anatolia). The north must be excluded 
since such a location would not have favoured at all Anatolian 
(or Hittite) temporally or geographically. The south is 
difficult because there lies the Black Sea and the Caucasus. If 
the location is in the southwest, which is the northern Balkans 
then Tocharian is in great difficulty having to retrace its steps 
in order to arrive in time at its destination in Central Asia! But 
the other two also face the problem of Germanic moving 
westward. An eastern location would create difficulties for 
Italic and Celtic which would have to return very hastily to 
reach their own final habitats. 



210 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Even if we do not follow Drinka in adopting the Anthony 
chronology which is patently unworkable, a location for the 
common cohabitation or close contact for the many centuries 
needed to establish this isogloss (and perhaps others) is 
obviously fraught with more difficulties than having all 
dialects spilling out of the larger Saptasindhu (and Bactria). 
I suspect, Hock realised the difficulties and for this reason 
chose to push aside Tocharian. 

But I have beaten about the bush long enough. Let me 
now justify the title and take a good, long, detailed look at the 
isoglosses. 

Thus far, at any rate, my examination of the very partial 
evidence of isoglosses offered by all these linguists and 
despite their selectivity, their circuitous arguments and their 
deliberate ignorance, shows that the Steppe is an impossible 
urheimat. 

14. Isoglosses. (Hereafter they shall be marked i, ii etc.) The 
pair of Russian linguists, Gamkrelidje and Ivanov, inform 
their readers that isogloss (i) feminines in *-a, *-I, *-u were 
developed in PIE after Anatolian (with Hittite as its chief 
representative) left the homeland. Since Anatolian has no 
feminines and since it is considered also by these two linguists 
more archaic than any other branch, then such feminines must 
be an innovation at the secondary stage of PIE. 

Except that, according to the two Russians©, Hittite did 
not move very far, if it moved at all, though some Anatolian 
dialects certainly spread westward. The Russian linguists do 
not favour the Pontic Steppe. They regard the Steppe as a 
secondary homeland (whereby the Corded Ware region 
becomes a tertiary resting stage). Citing almost exclusively 
linguistic evidence, the two Russians propose as primary 
homeland the Transcaucasian area — i.e. what is today 
Armenia, eastern Turkey ©Anatolia), northern Iran and 
upper Iraq. 

It is extraordinary and astonishing that learned linguists 
facing the very same general linguistic data and using the 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 211 

laws, procedures and tools of analysis of the selfsame 
“science” arrive at such disparate results in determining the 
PIE urheimat — from the Baltic to the Balkans and to Bactria! 
Thus the authoritative sanskritist T. Barrow favoured central 
Europe (1973:9) and the dispersal c 3000; Gamkrelidze and 
Ivanov offer us Transcaucasia (1955, 1990, 1985) and 3000; 
I. Diakonov favours the Balkans (1985); the Indian 
indoeuropeanist S. Misra posits N-W India and derives dates 
within the 6th millennium (1992; see also 2005); G. Owen 
believes Minoan to be the first IE language, the Greeks 
indigenous and the Aegean the cradle of PIE (1999); others 
favour, of course, the Steppe (Mallory generally; Hock 1999; 
Anthony 2007; et al); Johanna Nichols stretches eastward to 
Bactria (1997-8). 

Examining summarily some of these conflicting 
“estimates” J. Mallory cries out “Will the ‘real’ linguist please 
stand up!” (1997:98). But also, these conflicting results show 
clearly S. Harrison’s view that comparative linguistics is not 
“a branch of prehistory”. Seeing the messy disagreements 
regarding the urheimat, together with Harrison, I beseech 
linguists to leave (proto-)history to (proto)historians and 
simply offer the data and evidences of their studies without 
ludicrous claims and guidelines to others. 

15. Since Hittite does not have isogloss (i) feminines in -a, -I, 
and -u, say the two Russian and other linguists, these are a 
form of innovation in the branches that do have them and 
have them richly (especially Sanskrit). So here we enter 
again this circular game. 

I have not yet seen someone arguing that isogloss (ii) the 
words for brother, daughter, father, husband (S pati, Gk posis, 
L potis etc, and Ht -pat ‘just’), mother, sister, son and wife (S 
patni, Gk potnia, B -patni) are also an innovation after Hittite 
left, since Hittite does not have them. For the IE stems of all 
these words is found in all branches even if only three or four in 
some of them. These are the closest possible relations within 
any human community. If they are innovations, then perhaps 


212 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

some linguist expert can offer an explanation why PIE, upon 
the departure or separation of Anatolian, suddenly decided to 
abandon its old terms and, throughout the length and breadth of 
the community, invented these new terms — eight of them. 

But, really, the same applies to feminines. Mature and 
serious scholars claim that the the IEs, after the separation of 
the Anatolians, decided to “innovate” introducing the 
feminine gender into their speech without realising how 
unrealistic might be such a proposal. Following others, 
B. Fortson attempts to explain away this event by invoking 
two (hypothetical) suffixes formed with the (hypothetical) 
laryngeal h 2 (or H p in the (hypothetical) PIE which, 
eventually, more or less by chance (in a neo-darwinian 
linguistic evolution), became the feminine ending 
(pp 118,156). This is as unreasonable as it is unconvincing. For 
we are not talking about one feminine termination. Surely, it is 
stretching this hypothetical process beyond all credibility to 
claim that h 2 became three endings. Why three? ... And, if you 
consider Sanskrit (and Avestan and Greek) with several more 
stems in short vowels and consonants (e.g. S bhuti, 
Gk phusis, Celt buith ‘be’, Lith butis, SI bytb etc generally 
‘being’; nak-t- Gk nuk-t-, L noc-t-, Lith nakt-, Hit nek-ut-, 
Old SI nostb [with its palatal] ‘night’ ; pad. Gk pod-, etc; vac, L 
vox etc, etc) -why so many?... Are all these accidental 
outcomes? Let us be reasonable! 

I find the received thinking on this matter very defective. 
If the feminine gender arose as an innovation, there should 
have been a very compelling reason, perhaps of the nature of 
near immediate life or death; for we know quite well that 
Ancient Egyptian and modem French, both highly sophisticated 
and productive of extensive, fine literature (poetry as well as 
prose), function extremely well with only two genders while 
English, with its excellent poetry and prose and now a world 
common language, functions with one gender. And there are 
many more functioning with only one gender or two. 
Furthermore, in the 3500 years of the recorded history of IE no 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 213 

branch developed towards greater complexity; on the 
contrary, with the exception of Sanskrit which “froze” thanks 
to Panini’s grammar, they all changed to simpler 
morphological categories by attrition, analogy, the 
introduction of various auxiliaries and the like. Even Hittite 
shows clearly this devolution or process of reduction into 
simplification. Many IEnists have shown that it had sufficient 
traces of the dual, which had otherwise disappeared 
(Watkins 1986: 60; Szemerenyi 1996: 160-161; et al). The 
instrumental and ablative plural, which appeared in Old 
Hittite very rarely, later disappeared altogether as did the 
directive (Luraghi 2006, 177-178; Fortson, 164-165). Note 
that the abl. ending -az, seen also in the pronouns, in sing, 
and pi., is much like the Sanskrit -as, sing (alleged PIE *-es). 
The (medio-)passive participle in mana/meno is found only 
in names in weakened or syncopated form ( Szemerenyi, 
320-321). So again let us be reasonable! 

It would be more correct to say, therefore, that Hittite lost 
not only the dual and some declensional cases but also the 
feminine gender, as has happened in English. Indeed, many 
expert hittitologists state that the feminine did exist but 
disappeared in course of time; and some claim to have 
detected traces of it in the extant twogender language 
(Melchert 1994; Puhvel 1991; Weitenberg 1987). 

The same should be said of two more isoglosses which 
the Russian linguists term ‘innovations’ and ascribe them to 
the alleged post-Hittite developments in the PIE language. 
One is isogloss (iii), the instr pi ending of the thematic 
masculine as in Sanskrit dev-ais (alleged PIE *-ois); the other 
is isogloss (iv), the demonstrative pronoun as the Sanskrit (m) 
sa/so, (0 sd and (n) tad (alleged PIE "so, *sa, *tod/tho). These 
also were present in PIE, it would be more reasonable to say, 
but disappeared from Hittite along with other morphological 
features and the lexemes for ‘brother, daughter, father, 
husband, mother, sister, son, wife’. 






214 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

In the preceding discussion we find also nothing to 
indicate, let alone prove, that the Steppe, or the two 
Russians’ Transcaucasian area, was the PIE homeland. 

Let us use an analogy. In the Iranian languages we find 
that in Old Persian the cases are only six while dative and 
genitive are one as instrumental and ablative are one. But 
Khotanese has gone much further having only remnants of 
the neuter gender and the dual number (Sims-Williams 2006: 
139-140). Because we have the attestation of Avestan in full, 
no scholar claims that Khotanese, being simpler, is more 
archaic than Old Persian. 

16. Since we have mentioned the laryngeals several times 
and since we meet them constantly in all the IE publications, 
I feel I ought to cast a look at them, however briefly. They are 
wholly unattested in all IE branches except Hittite, a 
language whose IE character is much eroded, and 
contaminated, even smothered, by its neighbouring tongues, 
some of which are rich in laryngeals. Personally I doubt very 
much the existence of these sounds in PIE. It has become 
fashionable to introduce them at every turn of the discussion, 
otheiwise the linguist would be considered ignorant and could 
not hope to belong to the club of the elite. In the first half of the 
19th cent nobody suspected the existence of these laryngeals, 
that like the jokers in card-games can fill any position; now it is 
the rage to find “reflexes” of them just about anywhere. 

Let us consider the example of H 2 (or h 2 or 3p. This 
appears in PIE *dhugH 2 ter ‘daughter’ (Fortson 2004: 204): it 
appears as a in Gk thugater, but as i in S duhit^r. However, 
Av tiuVdar (Hale 2004: 748) or duxtar (Fortson, 204) has 
neither a nor i. So what was the form in Proto-Indo-Iranian?... 
Not known. Old Avestan has pta for ‘father’ but later patar 
and pitar (Mayerhofer KEWA, vol 2, 277); this is S pitr, 
Gk pater and L pater (Fortson, 23, 276) all allegedly from PIE 
*pH 2 ter. But, again, what was the from in Proto-Indo- 
Iranian?...Unknown. First of all consider that unlike S (which 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 215 

has many cognates from Vdub), Av duY&ar and Gk thugater 
stand isolated without related stems in their languages. Then, 
as M. Hale observed, the i was not an invariable feature of 
Proto-Indo-Iranian (2004: 748). The cognates for ‘father’ 
expose yet another inconsistency. L has also Ju[s]pi tar with i 
as well as pater in the selfsame phonetic environment and 
Fortson offers no explanation at all (2004: 23, 33, 253, 26l). 
There is also Marspitar (Fortson again offers no explanation: 
276, 406). A further difficulty sprouts out from S pitr. We 
mentioned already that Av has pta, pitar and patar, despite 
the selfsame phonetic environment. But according to IEnists 
S should have *pbitp. Because according to the IE 
reconstruction-system, the laryngeal H2 becomes i in S but 
also aspirates the previous consonants. Thus PIE *stH 2 to > S 
sthita ‘one who has stood’ and PIE *pletH 2 - > S prathiman 
‘width’. However, pitr has no aspirate ph\ What is more 
important and veiy funny, in this case S has i while others 
have a, yet, it is repeatedly broadcast, Sanskrit has levelled 
out into a the vowels e and o! These disparate phenomena 
show most flagrantly that these IE “reconstructions” and 
“phonetic laws” are anything but satisfactory. 

Obviously it is very nice to have at one’s disposal two, 
three, or as many such highly adaptable entities as one likes, 
and use them to fill gaps or generate morphemes that suit 
one’s “reconstructions”. Language change is inevitable but it 
has been neither regular nor uniform since, sometimes even 
in the selfsame linguistic/phonetic environment, unknown 
forces interfere. Consequently it is useful to have these 
entities to prop up “laws” that, in fact, are not laws and 
perpetuate the myth of regularity and uniformity. The 
laryngeals belong thus to the category of epicycles. 

Criticizing Rix’s Lexikon... (1998) for not being rigorous 
enough and giving unwarranted flexibility to finding matches 
and cognations with the (non-existent) laryngeals, Angela 
Marcantonio comments: “it may be very difficult, if not 
impossible, to falsify the IE theory, since one can always 


216 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

bridge the gaps between the predictions of the model and the 
actual data through ad-hoc explanations that will then be 
granted the status of a (more or less) general principle” (2009: 
33). Marcantonio does not use the word ‘epicycle’ but that is 
exactly what she is referring to. Nonetheless, sooner or later 
the epicycles produce too much complication and confusion. 

17. More isoglosses 

There is one popular division of the IE branches into two 
distinct groups (e.g. Drinka 7-8, 25, 32,; Kazanas 2009c : 59; 
etc): (A) Hittite, Tocharian, Italic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic; 
(B) Indoaryan, Iranian, Armenian, (Thraco-)Phrygian and 
Greek. (I leave out Albanian or Illyrian and Mycenaean and 
the Anatolian branches, since they yield negligible material 
for our purposes.) 

v. Group B has one isogloss in common and exclusively 
of all the branches in group A. This is the augment in some 
past tenses — a- in Sanskrit, e- in Greek etc. These languages 
do have other isoglosses in common but they share them also 
with languages in group A. Armenian has this augment too 
(only with monosyllabic stems); to a small extent Iranian also. 
Thus this isogloss lends some support to the illusion of the 
existence of a close group B. However, this shared isogloss 
proves nothing since we have also the division of satem- 
centum. I refer, of course, to the next one. Moreover, both 
Greek and Sanskrit have also non-augmented aorists! 
Needless to say this is ignored by IEnists. 

vi. Palatalization introduces anomalies to many groupings. 
The satem-centum division cuts across many other neat 
isogloss-groupings, satem branches are Indo-Iranian, Armenian 
and Balto-Slavic. centum are Tocharian, Hittite, Greek, Italic, 
Celtic and Germanic — a division that shatters the grouping (A) 
and (B). So in isogloss (v) we find Greek ( centum ) 
against the others {satem). To say, as some do (e.g. Winn 324: 
see § 11, above) that palatalization {satem) did not 
spread in the periphery is to ignore the position of Baltic and 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 217 

Iranian (please see Map in § 11) and to say that Iranian and 
Indie must have been at the centre (and not at the fringe) is to 
use a dishonest and circuitous argument — and it is dishonest 
because this applies to all branches (all at the centre), since 
they all were at one time a unified tongue, and because other 
branches are examined at the locus where they first appear in 
historical times. Equally dishonest is to say that it arose late 
and independently in the branches that have it, because then 
the same claim could be made of any other isogloss! 

However, there is also the oddity of Luvian which is an 
Anatolian branch, mostly south of Hittite, which has 
morphological peculiarities and some striking differences 
from Hittite (Fortson, 168-170). One of its most striking 
peculiarities is the fact that it is not centum even though it lies 
in the very heartland of centum languages: its velars became 
affricate z and sibilant 5. Note also that while Luvian has the 
verb conjugation in -mi in common with Hittite (and Sanskrit 
and Greek), it also has one in ni (< allegedly IE *-6) which is 
not found in Hittite (Fortson, 170; Szemerenyi 246). 

So Luvian’s position and features present a major 
difficulty and its differences cry out for explanations that are 
not at present forthcoming. 

vii. The ending of the genitive singular as in Sanskrit 
-(a)sya (alleged IE *-(o)syo) appears in Greek as -oio and 
Armenian as -oy. So Gamkrelidze and Ivanov give this 
isogloss only to the branches of group B. But they are wrong 
in that they omit the endings -is/oso in Gothic and other 
Germanic dialects; the -osio in Latin and other Italic dialects. 
Even the Hieroglyphic Hittite genitive in -asi and Luvian 
adjective in - assi- is given by Szemerenyi and others 
(Szemerenyi, 183-4, 187) as related to *- (o)syo. (Note that 
Clackson p 97, Fortson p 117, Watkins 2004, p 561, glide 
over this matter without giving many details!) 

viii. Hock highlights the interesting changes of original 
*tt. This turns into ss in Italic, Germanic and Celtic; into st in 
Baltic, Slavic, Greek and Iranian and into tst in Hittite. 


218 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Strangely it appears as (>* tst >) tt in Sanskrit (Hock 1999: 15- 
l6; Fortson 63; etc). I put the (>*tsf>) for Sanskrit in brackets 
because I find the various analytical explanations not at all 
convincing (Fortson, 63; Szemerenyi 103-104): ut-tha ( <ut- 
stha) ‘arising’ does indicate a loss of -5- but (a) this is quite 
different from nrt-yati ‘dances’ giving nrt-ta ‘what was/has 
been danced’! (b) Other branches do not have dhatus ‘roots, 
seedforms’: e.g. V nrt, V mad etc as such (Avestan approaches 
slightly the Sanskrit situation), but only stems: to cite Greek 
4-(7 7 )i6tos ‘unknown’ as if there was in Greek some root 
*F it- or Latin visus (<*vis-sus < *vid-sus) ‘seen, known’ as if 
there was, again, a Latin root *vid, when the present stem was 
vide- and elsewhere vid- , proves nothing beyond the simple 
fact that these languages had lost their dhatus and functioned 
with ready-made forms that had suffered much attrition. 
Then, that dehi imperative ‘do thou give’ (< da-da-ti ‘gives’) 
came from *da-z-dhi (parallel to dazdi) is mere speculation 
since the actual form is de-hi not de-/da-dhi, in parallel with 
bru-hi ‘speak!’, kr-nu-hi ‘make, do!’ as distinct from vid-dhi 
‘know!’ or ru-n-(d)dhi ‘obstruct!’. Behind this thinking is the 
AIT and the alleged common Indo-Iranian trekking from the 
Steppe down to south-eastern Iran. 

However, for argument’s sake let us accept that Sanskrit, 
like other branches, started as *t-t, changed to *t-s-t then back 
to tt. The fact remains that here we have an isogloss that 
cuts right across groups A and B and groups satem and 
centum and so tears to shreds any attempt at neat 
grouping. There are more such isoglosses. 

ix. The sigmatic future (e.g. S da-syati ‘(s)he will give’; 
Gk aco-oeco; etc) appears in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin (not fully), 
Celtic and Baltic and has the same effect as (ii). There are 
differentiations, as Szemerenyi points out (pp 285-287), but 
the fact remains that they all have -5-. To say that there was 
no future in PIE as Clackson does following others (p 119), 
because there is no exact matching of forms or because Hittite 
and Germanic do not have this, is again speculative, defective 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 219 

thinking. In any case, this isogloss whether primary or 
secondary, also cuts across both groups A and B and satem 
and centum. 

x. A similar effect is produced by the isogloss of the 
reduplicated perfect, found in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin (fused 
with aorist), Celtic and Germanic (e.g. S da-dars-a, Av 
dada^sa, G 8e-8opK-a ‘have seen’; L cu-curri ’have run’; 
Gth stai-stant ‘struck’). 

Thus we have Celtic, Germanic and Italic from group A; 
Greek and Sanskrit from b. Then, we have Sanskrit and 
Avestan from satem and all the others from centum. 

xi. A. Lubotsky points out (2001: 302) that Germanic, 
Baltic, Slavic and Iranian lost the aspiration of the voiced 
aspirates (e.g. dh > d, bh > b etc). However all branches lost 
the voiced aspirates except Sanskrit. Thus Greek turned them 
into unvoiced as in S bhar- and G (pep- ( bh/ph ) and Latin into 
labiodental /as infer-. (Cf S V bhr ‘bearing, supporting’, 
V dha ‘putting’, V ghas ‘eating’ etc.) 

xii. Original *s in CV 9 , VCV and some other positions 
became a spirant or h (or was lost) in Greek, Phrygian, 
Armenian and Iranian. Cf S sarva, Av ha u rva\ Gk holo-, C 
(b)uile ‘all, whole’; S dasa ‘demon, servant’, Av ddha- and 
Gk 8aai ‘strange, barbaric people’. This isogloss also cuts 
right across the fashionable groupings. 

Since Sanskrit retained the original phoneme in these 
cases, surely this indicates that Iranian moved away 
from Indoaryan, not the other way round as the mainstream 
AIT has it. 

xiii. A rather bizarre isogloss is that of the Middle present 
participle in *-mo (G&I, 345; Szemerenyi 320-321; Fortson, 
97-98) found in Baltic and Anatolian. It is bizarre because 
Baltic is satem while Hittite is centum and the two are 
separated by Thraco-phrygian, Slavic and Germanic. How and 
where on earth did these two branches, Anatolian and Baltic 


9 OConsonant; V=Vowel 



220 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

find themselves together to the exclusion of the other 
branches and long enough to develop this unique feature? 

These facts, linguistic and geographic, perhaps make 
Gamkrelidge and Ivanov suggest that this was an 
independent development — thus applying the convenient 
selectivity epicycle since the common thinking of “grouping” 
fails here. But, of course, if this isogloss developed 
independently, why not others? (See also vi above.) 

xiv. Another bizarre isogloss is the subjunctive with -d- 
(G & I, 344) shared by Tocharian (far east) and Italic (middle 
south), in both of which it functions as future, and Celtic (far 
West). Whenever Tocharian and Celtic or Italic or Germanic 
or Baltic share an isogloss, it is very difficult to envisage 
common cohabitation or close contact for long since we have 
two opposite directions of movement from the putative 
homeland at the Steppe (or Armenia!). 

But the matter of subjunctive is more complicated since 
subjunctives and optatives were formed directly with the 
verbal roots and not derived stems; Sanskrit also participates 
in this (Clackson, 136), although it has the moods with 
derived stems as well and, of course, verbs have -a- as 
subjunctive marker before endings. Therefore Sanskrit can 
be said to share the subjunctive isogloss with Tocharian etc. 

xv. The two Russians also give the modal forms in -/ 
which we find in Tocharian, Armenian, Anatolian and Slavic 
(see also Fortson, 98). Here again we see two opposite 
directions with Tocharian eastward and Slavic westward. This 
also cuts across groups and presents the same difficulty as 
xiv and xvi, the next one. 

xvi. This is the the medio-passive marker -r- which we 
examined in §13, earlier. As we saw this is shared by 
Tocharian, Hittite, probably Phrygian, Italic and Celtic. This 
does give support to the illusion of the group A and centum 
(although Germanic is missing), but, on the other hand, the 
Balto-Slavic ( satem ) is also missing while Phrygian (from group 
B) intrudes. However, the most important feature here is 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 221 

the directions in which the languages moved as in xiv and 
xv; also, Greek and Slavic are missing though interposed 
between the eastern branches (Tocharian, Anatolian) and the 
western ones (Italic, Celtic). 

xvii. The isogloss -su/-si of the locative plural appears in 
Sanskrit, Iranian, Greek (dat/instr/loc in -si), Baltic (-ose) and 
Slavic; but it is possible that Latin -is could derive by apokope 
from *-isi or *-isu. Anyway this isogloss also cuts across the 
two groupings. The two Russians consider it an innovation. 
Why not? If it does not fit the Theory, it is an independent 
development and/or an innovation. 

xviii. The prohibitive (or inhibitive) 10 md/me/mi is found 
in Tocharian, Sanskrit, Avestan, Armenian and Greek; it is an 
isogloss that again cuts across groupings and provides a 
ponderous puzzle. The other branches have instead na/ni 
(and ne Clackson, 162-3). Hittite (alone from the Anatolian 
sub-branch) has le. 

This le looks very like the Akkadian negative la (and Old 
Assyrian 2000-1500 BCE: see Huchnergard and Woods 2004: 
219, 261) and the Hebrew 16 ‘not’ (McCarter, 2004:358) or the 
Ugaritic la/al, ‘no/not’ (Pardee 2004:309). This may be 
indicative of how Hittite in general lost many features of PIE and 
acquired characteristics from the surrounding languages. 

Here again Sanskrit reveals its special status. It has na for 
simple negative statements: e.g. yatbd nd hmise na bamsi ‘in 
that ... thou art not angry [and] do-not slay’ (RV2. 33-15). It also 
has ma + injunctive for prohibitions: e.g. ma nab suryasya ... 
yuyothah ‘do-not thou-sever us ... from-the-sun’ (RV 2.33.1). 
But it also has na +injunctive in negations with future or 
absolutive sense: e.g. yarn aditya abhi druho raksatha, nem 
[=nd+im] agham nasat ‘O Adityas, whom you protect from 
harm, him distress shall/should not/never reach’ (RV 8.47.1). 
This last construction has the sense of prohibition 


10 Prohibition has force for all times, and, of course, before the action starts. 
Inhibition occurs when the negative comand/direction stops an ongoing action. 



222 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

too: ‘let not distress ever reach him’. There is another 
construction with the subjunctive but we need not go further. 
With this last example, we can speculate that PIE had all 
these syntactical tools, and more. After the dispersal, some 
branches retained ma for prohibitions and other na (or their 
protoform). Sanskrit, as so often, retained both na and ma. 

xix. The accent provides yet another interesting isogloss. 
Free-moving accent from stem to different parts of the stem 
or to ending is observable in Sanskrit, (Avestan?), Greek, 
Slavic and Baltic. All the others have a fixed or bound accent. 
Andersen is, of course, correct in saying that the satem- 
centum line and free-fixed accent divide Balto-Slavic from 
Italic, Germanic and Celtic (2009: 23); but Greek ( centum ) 
breaks the neat arrangement of Northwest while Armenian 
with its fixed accent breaks the satem unity. 

In the Veda, in Greek and probably in Avestan the accent 
was musical but in the later development of all three the 
accent became one of stress as in Baltic and Slavic. 

xx. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov give as another isogloss the 
endings for the comparative of adjectives in -tara/tero- and 
superlative in ista/isto : these, they say are found in Indo- 
Iranian, Greek and Germanic. The superlative suffix is 
confined to Indo-Iranian, Greek and Germanic. But the 
comparative ending is found also in Italic ( de-ter-ior , dex- 
terus , in-terus etc) and in Celtic ( deini-thir ‘as swift as’, nach- 
tar ‘higher part’). So the spread is quite broad and cuts across 
our groupings. 

With twenty isoglosses so far, we see first that there 
cannot be any neat grouping and some of them like those 
involving Tocharian, Anatolian and Slavic or Germanic or 
Celtic, cannot possibly be the result of early contiguity or 
later contact. Second, Sanskrit is seen with hard evidence to 
retain genuine elements of PIE and not arbitrary ones based 
on circuitous and speculative thinking. 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 223 

Many scholars from the time of Meillet (1906-1922) to 
Mallory (2002), Kazanas (2003, 2009a), Andersen (2009) et 
al, take selected common vocabulary as isoglosses to indicate 
close relationship between two or more languages or 
establish retentions and losses. Earlier (§15) I used the terms 
for the commonest human relations (brother, daughter etc) as 
isoglosses. Now I shall take some well-attested IE theonyms 
for the same purpose, i.e. treat them exactly like 
morphological isoglosses. 

xxi. Sanskrit, Slavic, Baltic and Germanic have the 
theonym Parjanya, Perun (and variants), Perkunas (some 
variants: note the velar -k- here, not palatal) and Fjorgyn. This 
name is not found in Hittite, Greek and Latin. But - 

xxii. The theonym dyaus/zeus in various forms is found 
in Sanskrit, Hittite (DSius), Greek, Latin and Germanic - but 
not Baltic and Slavic. Then - 

xxiii. The name of the Dawngoddess usas/eos in Sanskrit 
and Greek appears as au[s]-rora in Latin and Eos-tre in 
Germanic but nowhere else - although Baltic has the stem for 
‘dawn’ ausra. Then again - 

xxiv The Sanskrit harmoniser-god Aryaman appears as 
(Iranian airyaman-' friend’), Areimene in Mycenaean 
(perhaps Are-s in Greek), Celtic Ariomanus (in Gaul) and 
Eremon (in Ireland) and Irmin in Germanic. 

xxv. Sanskrit Firegod Agni is found as Agnis in Hittite 
(! even though its lexeme for ‘fire’ is pahhur) and Ogun (and 
variants) in Slavic. Latin has the word ignis and Baltic ugnis 
‘fire’ but not the theonym. 

Since pahhur is the ordinary Hittite lexeme for fire, one 
would expect this to provide the name for Firegod. What is 
Agnis doing here, then? Where did it come from? But see next 
one, xxvi! 

One cannot but notice how Sanskrit preserves all five 
theonyms (all in the RV), Germanic and Greek three, Hittite, 
Latin and Slavic two and Baltic and Celtic one only. (For the 


224 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

overwhelming superiority of Sanskrit retentions see Kazanas 
2009c, ch 3; 2009a; and 2001.) 

xxvi. One set of counterparts for ‘fire’ consists of 
Tocharian por/puwar, Hittite pahhur, Greek 7tup {pur) and 
Germanic fou/fyr. Elsewhere we find cognates of agni/ignis 
etc. This isogloss also burns up all neat boundaries - with 
Tocharian in the east and north, Germanic in the far west and 
north and Hittite and Greek in the middle south. 

Here again it is difficult to explain the movements from the 
Steppe east, south and westward to the exclusion of all others. 

But when we consider that both Sanskrit and Anatolian 
have the theonym Agnis (i.e. groups A and B, satem - 
centum !) then the imbroglio becomes mind-boggling. 
Obviously no neat grouping or moving out of the Steppe can 
explain this and several of the other isoglosses - “maintaining 
their relative positions to each other as they fanned out from 
the homeland” as Hock put it (1997:17). There are here two 
factors. One, some IE speakers forgot, lost, innovated or 
borrowed more than others because of a long journey and 
because of the native culture they met at their locus of 
settlement. Two, only an urheimat in the east, like Bactria, 
will do; for from there Tocharian would move simply 
northward, perhaps together with others, but not in the 
opposite direction and so would neatly get out of the way. 
Then all the others would move westward and northward and 
to their respective habitats. 

Let us now return to the perfect. We saw in x above the 
occurrence of the reduplicated perfect in many branches. 
However — 

xxvii. There is also a simple perfect as expressed in 
Sanskrit veda, Greek 0i8a. Gothic wait, all meaning ‘I know 
(having known)’; also in Avestan, Latin, Slavic, Baltic (Old 
Prussian) and Celtic. Sanskrit and Avestan have other verbs 
also with unreduplicated perfect: they are mostly dhatus with 
medial -a- and they form this simple perfect mostly in the 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 225 

weak persons (i.e. other than sing 1, 2, 3 Active) as in sing 
Middle 1, 3 tepe (and ta-td-pa) fromV tap ‘heating’; mene 
from V man ‘thinking’; and, more significant, from V cit 
‘perceiving' > cet-atur dual 3 active, (and commonly ci-kit-ur 
pi 3) and fromV yam ‘reaching, checking’ > yamur pi 3 (and 
yemur ; also redupl ya-yama sing 3). All thse forms indicate 
that there was also a simple perfect. 

Tocharian and Hittite have no perfect, reduplicated or 
simple. 

xxviii. Hittite has only a periphrastic perfect. This is 
formed with the active participle neuter accusative of the 
verb and the auxiliar har-/har-ak ‘to have’ in its finite forms as 
in mar-kan har-te-ni ‘all-you have cut’. Thus Hittite retains a 
sense of the perfect unlike Tocharian which has only present 
and past (preterite). But periphrasis, as we know from 
languages that are documented in historical times like Greek 
and English, is a late phenomenon. 

However, Sanskrit also has a periphrastic perfect but only 
in post-rigvedic texts. In the Atharva Veda and in the 
Brahmanas this perfect is formed with the accusative sing of 
a feminine of the root and the redupl. perfect of kr ‘do/ 
make’: e.g. gam-ay-dm ca-kd-ra ‘one caused (someone) to 
go’ ( Atharva Veda 18.2.27), vidam kr- ‘to have known’ etc. 
In the Brdhmana texts this is more frequently formed with 
the perfect ‘to be’ as- as auxiliary (and sometimes ‘to 
become bhu-'). In Sanskrit too this periphrasis appears as a 
late phenomenon, not present in the RV, but it may be that it 
did not make it into the RV. 

It is very interesting that Avestan also has a periphrastic 
perfect formed with the sing, accusative of the feminine of the 
present participle and the perfect of ‘to be’ ah- as auxiliary. 
This has important implications. It indicates that Avestan 
broke away from Indo-Iranian and not the reverse, as the 
mainstream Theory has it. If Sanskrit had broken away from 
the unified Proto-Indo-Iranian then, since Avestan has the 


226 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

auxiliary ah-, the Vedic texts should have as- also, not kr--, kr- 
should appear later as a distinct Sanskrit innovation. Since in 
Sanskrit kr- appears first in the Vedic texts and as- appears later, 
then we must take it that Iranian broke away having both 
kr and as- as auxiliaries then abandoned kr- and kept only as- 
which became ah- (see xii, above for the Avestan s>h). This 
separation occurred at a post-rigvedic date.. 

(If Sanskrit had moved to Saptasindhu away from indo- 
Iranian in Iran, as the Theory claims, then the Atharva veda 
text would have had first the auxiliary as, carrying it from the 
common Indo-Iranian past, and only later, in the Brahmanas 
etc, the auxiliary kr as an innovation. The evidence does not 
show this!) 

Be that as it may, Greek and Latin and subsequently other 
languages developed a periphrastic perfect starting with 
passive formations with ‘to be’ as auxiliary and then active 
with ‘to have’. But as Drinka shows in her excellent studies 
of actual documentation (2001, 2003 passim), these are all 
late innovations and need not concern us. 

Now then, an isogloss that occurs in Hittite and Indo- 
Iranian exclusively must, to any reasonable scholar, count as 
a near miracle since, according to the mainstream Theory, 
Hittite ( centum , group A) left first and Indo-Iranian ( satem, 
group B) among the very last ones; yet no other branch 
supposedly archaic or not, centum or satem, group A or B, 
has this periphrastic device — except Avestan, as noted. 

Here, the industry of epicycles will offer a not unexpected 
one, saying that this phenomenon is random, accidental or 
entirely coincidental — juspqs the incidence of the Firegod’s 
theonym is Agni- in Sanskrit and Hittite, even though we would 
have expected in Hittite a Firegod whose name would have 
contained the stem pahhur ‘fire’ and not agni- And, of course, 
the use as auxiliaries in the periphrastic perfect of ah- in 
Avestan and as- in Sanskrit is, according to the same epicycle, 
such another random, coincidental phenomenon. 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 227 

The insuperable and condemnatory difficulty is that 
this facile epicycle is used only when the actual, hard 
facts undermine hopelessly Emeneau’s mainstream doctrine 
(see §7). 

18. Conclusions. In the Introduction to her paper (2009), 
Drinka states: 

Hittite and Germanic [...] appear to have separated from the IE unity 
at an earlier time, judging from their archaic verb systems. Greek 
and Indo-Iranian, on the other hand, share a number of 
morphological and other innovations, and seem to have remained 
in contact longer. (p2.) 

The first statement is hardly true. The second is partly 
true only because, with very few exceptions, Sanskrit has a 
unique all-inclusiveness and, as we saw, shares many 
features with most branches, as is obvious from the isoglosses 
we examined. 

(a) Take the verb to be, the persons that have significant 
differences: 




Sanskrit 

Hittite 

Greek 

Gothic 

sing 

1 

asmi 

esmi 

eimi 

im 

pl 

1 

smas 

— 

esmen 

sijum 

Pi 

3 

santi 

asanzi 

eisi/enti 

sind 


For the 1st sing. Sanskrit and Hittite are close against 
Greek and Gothic, the oldest attested Germanic. Hittite has 
no extant 1st pi. and of the other three Sanskrit and Germanic 
show loss of initial stem vowel, which is retained in Greek. 
For the 3rd pi. Sanskrit and Germanic lose the initial vowel 
which is retained in Hittite and Greek. In fact there is not one 
instance of close similarity between Hittite and Germanic. 

(b) In the Active primary endings Sanskrit, Hittite and 
Greek are much much closer than Gothic (e.g.: 1st sing -mi 
for the three and -m for Gothic; for the 2nd sing - si for the 


228 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

three and -s for Gothic; for the 3rd pi nti/ntsi/nti for the three 
and -nd for Gothic). 

In the Active secondary endings we have similarity for 1st 
pi with Sanskrit, Greek and Germanic -ma against Hittite -wen. 
In the 2nd pi we have Sanskrit -ta(na) and Hittite -ten against 
Germanic (3. Here again there is no closeness anywhere 
between Hittite and Germanic. 

(c) In the Middle primary endings Hittite has the marker r 
whereas Sanskrit, Greek and Gothic do not. 

In the Middle secondary endings, Gothic has the same as 
its primary endings while Sanskrit and Hittite and Tocharian 
have several similarities (1st sing -i, -hat, -e, 2nd sing -thas, 
-tat, -te; 1st pi -mahi, -wastat, -mat-, 3rd pi -nta, -antat, -nt. 

(d) Also, Hittite has no dual (though some traces have 
been discerned) whereas Gothic does retain enough 
remnants both for primary and secondary. 

(e) Hittite has no subjunctive or optative, only indicative 
and imperative. Gothic has indicative and imperative and a 
subjunctive which, in fact, continues the original optative. So 
here Germanic is closer to Sanskrit and Greek. 

(0 Hittite has no simple and no reduplicated perfect (see 
§17, xii and xx). 

Therefore, I don’t see either the close relationship of Hittite 
and Germanic nor any archaism. And I can cite many IEnists 
who agree that Hittite underwent losses and syncretism in its 
entire morphology. For example, P. Di Giovine cites R. 
Lazzeroni who wrote: “la tradizione indoeuropea confluita nelle 
lingue anatoliche conosceva i sing paradigmi modali; ce che, 
per questo aspetto, essa non e piu arcaica di quella confluita 
nelle altre lingue”: ‘the IE tradition preserved in the Anatolian 
languages must have had a rich modal system. 
In other words, the IE tradition preserved in the Anatolian 
languages cannot be older than that preserved in the remaining 
languages’ (2009: 10). He states: - 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 229 

The absence of the category of Aspect in many IE languages 
appears to be an innovative feature [i.e. a loss], rather than an inherited 
one. The scarcity of moods typical of [...] the Anatolian languages [...] 
can be seen as a reduction undergone by the original system, and 
not as an archaic, original feature itself, a feature antecedent to the 
formation of a richer modal system. ( 2009 : 18 ; my brackets.) 

The following conclusions can now be drawn. 

I) Theories that Hittite or Anatolian (and Germanic), or 
Tocharian are most archaic are wrong. No archaic IE branch, 
as Hittite is claimed by some to be, could possibly be 
established close by the PIE homeland (like Transcaucasia, as 
per G & I) and at the same time fail to retain any of the eight 
most intimate of human relations (brother, daughter etc). The 
presence in Hittite of laryngeals is now considered rather 
disappointing as several scholars indicate — from Lehman 
(1952: 25ff) to Mayrhofer (1986: 123ff), Clackson (2007: 
58ff) and Marcantonio (2009). In any case, since they are not 
extant in any IE branch other than Hittite and since they are 
common in the neareastern tongues, it would be more correct 
to say that Hittite borrowed them as it borrowed most of its 
vocabulary and social customs from the neighbouring 
cultures. True, A. Sihler uses the laryngeals to obtain a 
simpler system of Ablaut or ( apophonie, 1995: 1 Iff) but he 
also points out that another complication arises elsewhere as 
more sound laws are required — something already noted by 
Collinge (1985); and Clackson manages to find in Greek a 
rather unique “triple reflex” which is the outcome of b p h„ h 3 
(2007: 58-60), but all this is unnecessary. (See also §16, 
above.) 

In §15 we listed several clear examples of attrition and 
loss in Hittite: feminines; the IE words for the eight closest 
relationships - where the presence of -pat ‘just’ shows that at 
one time it did have them; the dual; the instrumental and 
ablative plural. To these we can add the stem agni for ‘fire’ 
betrayed by the retention of the theonym Agnis-, the negative 



230 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

particles na and ma (and their variants);- the participle in - 
mana/meno-\ the participle in -ant which has not active 
meaning as in all other IE branches but passive, and 
perfective as in kun-ant- ‘killed’, ‘or pa-nz/a ‘gone’ (Luraghi 
2006: 185). These examples should be sufficient to show that 
this branch had lost the greater part of its IE character. 

The only genuine archaic element in Hittite is its group of 
heteroclitic stems in r/n which, however, appear also in 
Sanskrit, Avestan, Greek and Latin — constituting yet another 
isogloss that cuts right through any grouping. Although Hittite 
has a larger number of such stems, yet many of them have no 
cognates in the other IE branches, as indicated by Sihler 
(1995: 299-300). 

II) The only genuinely archaic language is Sanskrit. This 
conclusion is based on considerations of real facts in the actual 
languages, not concocted, unverifiable asterisk lexemes. 

Sanskrit has preserved the two (or more) modes of 
negation (§17, xviii). In phonology it preserves the original s 
which others have as spirant h or lose it and it alone retains 
the voiced aspirates gh etc (§17, xi, xii). It also preserves the 
retroflex (or, sonorant) vowel r, lost everywhere else. 

It has the simple, reduplicated and periphrastic perfects. 
The last one appears only in Hittite as its only form of perfect 
and in Avestan (§17, x, xvii, xviii). We should note that for the 
periphrastic perfect, Avestan has as auxiliary not the verb kr but 
ah- (=S as-) which means that it broke away from Sanskrit after 
kr- was supplanted by as- in the post-Samhita period. 

Sanskrit has feminines not only in -a, - 1 , and -u but also in 
-i and u and, even more important, in consonantal endings 
pravat ‘distance/height’, sarit ‘stream’ (see also S urj 
‘vehemence’, Gk opyr), C fere). Many of these are radical: id 
‘refreshment’, ud ‘wave’, krp ‘beauty’, drs ‘look/sight’, dvis 
‘hatred’, nid ‘contempt’, nih ‘she-destroyer’, pis ‘ornament’, 
bhas ‘lustre’, mrdh ‘conflict’, vac ‘speech’, vid ‘knowledge’ 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 231 

etc. It is thus indicated that the feminine gender was not an 
innovation but an inherent, integral part of PIE. 

Moreover, Sanskrit retains some 20 theonyms whose 
cognates appear scattered in twos and threes in the other 
branches (§17, xxi-xxv; for more see Kazanas 2001 and 
2009c: ch 3). 

Beyond theonyms and feminines, Sanskrit preserves an 
enormous vocabulary that has counterparts or cognations 
present only in partial numbers scattered in the other branches. 
In a study of over 400 lexical items comprising as far as possible 
invariables like bodily parts, close relationships, simple natural 
functions like breathing, eating etc etc, I found that Sanskrit had 
lost 53, Germanic 145, Greek 149, Baltic 185 and the others 
more than 200 (Kazanas 2009a). 

There are, of course, evident attritions and changes (like the 
presence of retroflexes, palatalisation, sandhi etc) but these 
phenomena need to be studied afresh without the distorting 
light of the AIT. 

Ill) The isoglosses show that neither the Steppe nor 
Transcaucasia could have been the PIE homeland. Also that it is 
futile to try to establish groups, movements, contacts, 
stratifications and dates. There are difficulties whatever 
urheimat is postulated — in the West, in the East or in between. 
An analogy may help. If you stand on the North Pole, you can 
move only southward. After a few steps you have many 
options: further south, north, east, northwest etc. Once the 
branches split away, they developed independently according 
to the resolve of their speakers to preserve the mother tongue 
(and general culture) as pure as possible and to establish and 
maintain an oral tradition to this purpose; thereafter, they 
changed according to the cultures they met, the pressures they 
received on the way and at the place of settlement and 
their interaction with them. All these conditions and factors are 
not known despite the numerous theories propounded by IE 
linguists. The measure for all these conditions and factors 


232 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

can be set, but only approximately, by the Indoaryan culture 
which seems to have retained the most elements in about 
every field. 

See Figure 3- Map showing the “seven rivers” and Sarasvatl; various sites 
with Harappan artefacts far from Saptasindhu; also the two movements 
eastward by Ayu and westward by Amavasu in Chapter 3. 

And if a PIE homeland must be posited, then I would opt 
for the greater Saptasindhu which could have extended up 
to Bactria. Joanna Nichols decided on Bactria as the PIE 
homeland entirely on linguistic evidence of isoglosses, 
loanwords and the like (§14, middle) — and this is in harmony 
with archaeological, anthropological and other kinds of 
evidence. Some rightly consider these regions extensions of 
Saptasindhu (Frawley 2001). This may well have been so. In 
some passages the poets ot the i?Urecall that their ancestors had 
always done their sacrifices “here” — like the Angiras family 
(4.1.3) or the Vasisthas (7.76.4). But they also thought to spread 
far the Aryan laws (10.65.11). So, in one of the older hymns of 
the RV, addressed to the goddess and the river Sarasvatl, it is 
said: ‘She, the holy follower of Universal Order, [Sarasvatl,] has 
spread us all [the five tribes of the Vedic people (stanza 12)] 
beyond enmities, beyond the other [seven] sister-rivers, as the 
sun spreads out the days’ (6.61.9) 11 : 

sa no visva ati dvisah svasfanya rtdva.fi/ 
dtann aheva suryah// 

A post rigvedic text, the Baudhayana Srauta-Sutra 
mentions explicitly two movements from the central region 
of Saptasindhu:- 

pran ayuh pravavraja; tasyaite kurupancalah kasi-videhd 
ity etad ayavam pravrajam; pratyan amavasus, tasyaite 


11 The river Sarasvatl was in those ancient times regarded supreme 
and the “seven 



INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 233 

gdndhdrayasparsavo ’rdtta ityetadamavasavam. 

' Ayu migrated eastward; his [descendants] are the 
Kuru-Pancalas and the Kasi-Videhas: this is the Ayava 
migration. Amavasu [migrated] westward; his 
[descendants] are the Gandharis, the Parsus and the 
Arattas: this is the Amavasa migration. ’ 

(Bau Srau 18.44.) 

The Kuru-Pancalas and Kasi-Videhas are people (and 
regions) east of Sarasvati in the basins of Yamuna and Ganga. 
The Gandharis are obviously west of the Indus, and the 
Parsus are the Persians (=Iranians) while the Arattas must be 
even further west. Now, the Mesopotamian text Emmerkar 
and the Lord of Aratta (Kramer 1952) refers to Aratta as north¬ 
west of Uruk. So Aratta here cannot be the region in Punjab as 
Frawley thought (2001: 224, 226) and as I concurred 
(Kazanas 2007: 70). On the basis of the Mesopotamian text 
and Baudhayana’s text, B.B. Lai’s suggestion of mount Ararat 
(Lai 2009: 134) seems more probable; but I would add the 
region Urartu, southwest of Armenia. So Anatolians probably 
belong to the Amavasu emigration of the Indoaryans. 

Be that as it may, it is not difficult, surely, to envisage 
emigrations into Bactria or south of it and, thence, farther 
north in Iran and then northwestward to the Near East or the 
Steppe and to Europe. In this scenario the difficulties with 
Tocharian are obviated. Anatolia is far enough to explain the 
prodigious losses suffered by the Anatolian dialects, 
especially, if the speakers travelled as elit warriors without 
women and children (i.e. Hittites). The Kassites and Mitannis 
followed the same route but stayed in northern Mesopotamia. 
The other branches moved westward with Greek, Italic and 
Celtic turning south while Germanic and Baltic turned north. 
And they all had plenty of time and space to meet and share 


sisters” (sometimes, daughters or young ones) are the other rivers, which are 
in fact more than seven; but “seven" is an auspicious mystical number. 



234 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

or develop common traits in language, religion and law or 
social customs. However, this is another story that needs not 
only linguistic but also anthropological and archaeological 
evidence. Genetics tells us now that “It is not necessary, 
based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for 
the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians 
at the time of the onset of settled agriculture [=c7000 BCE]” 
(Sahoo, Endicot et al 2006: my brackets). But even earlier it 
was shown that “Indian tribal and caste populations derive 
largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene [i.e. c 
10000 to 3 MYA] southern and western Asians and have 
received limited gene flow from external regions since the 
Holocene [=c 10000 to present] ... these southern Asian 
Pleistocene coastal settlers would have provided the inocula for 
the subsequent differentiation of the distinctive eastern and 
western Eurasian gene pools” (Kisilvid, Cavalli-Sforza 
et al 2003: my square brackets). Oxford geneticist S. 
Oppenheimer independently provides more specific and 
emphatic evidence and reverses the direction of migration(s): 
“South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of Ml 7 [=Caucasoid 
(=Aryan) marker] and his ancestors ... thus undermining any 
theory of M17 as a marker of a ‘male Aryan invasion’ of India” 
(2003: 152: my brackets). He adds that the M17 marker could 
have travelled from India-Pakistan (= ‘Saptasindhu’ in our Maps, 
Fig 2 and 4) through Central Asia, Russia and then Europe after 
about 50000 BP, which, if further confirmed, will make absolute 
nonsense of the IE linguists chronologies. In 2010 P. Underhill 
et al corroborate these findings with their Rlala and M458 
mutations, thus agreeing with S. Sharma et al in the Journal of 
Human Genetics-. “The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup 
Rial substantiates the autochthons origin of Brahmins and 
the caste system” (2009). 

Consider what is happening to English in the UK, in the 
Caribbean islands, North America, Pacific islands, Australia, 
New Zealand, India and South Africa. In each region we find 


INDO-EUROPEAN ISOGLOSSES: WHAT THEY (don’t) SHOW US / 235 

attrition and innovation, different accents, different meanings 
to the same words and even different spelling (USA ‘thru’, 
‘center’, ‘color’) and pronunciation show most eloquently 
that mutations happen in the fringe as much as if not more 
than the centre which is the UK! We have rich documentation 
now and can chart and explain these changes. Not so, from 
the pre- or proto-historic period of the IE diffusion. Theories 
merely obfuscate the issue. 


6. Language, the Cyclicity Theory and 

the Sanskrit Dhatus 


Argument. Sanskrit alone has dhatus or roots in an 
absolute sense. This fact and the accompanying complex 
morphology of Sanskrit show that language (human speech 
in general) started as a highly synthetic phenomenon. With 
the passage of millennia it gradually devolved into a simpler 
morphology and many descendants. Within this larger 
movement of decay several tongues moved from a rather 
fixed syntactic isolating status back to a fusional condition 
with new complex morphology (e.g. Coptic from Old 
Egyptian, Modern from Old Hungarian etc.). These are 
smaller segments of cycles within the larger descending 
spiral. An examination of several nominal and verbal 
endings in Sanskrit and Proto-Indo-European shows that 
these endings do not come from original pronouns, pre- or 
post-positions and similar morphemes. 

How did language begin? How and why does it change? 

1. It is generally thought that languages tend roughly to 
follow a circular course moving from isolating to 
agglutinative to fusional typology then back to an isolating 
status and so on (Dixon 1997: 42; Hodge 1970 passim). Let 
us define these terms for types of language. Classical 
Chinese is an isolating language, where every meaningful 
lexeme is a distinct word; English has over the centuries 
moved toward this position. Agglutinative tongues have 
words which are compounds containing several meaningful 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 237 

elements that can be separated, such as Turkish and 
Hungarian. However, Hungarian is for some time now 
moving towards a fusional state, where a word contains a 
stem and other elements marking noun cases, number and 
gender and in verbs person, number, mood, tense, activity, 
passivity and so on: typical fusional tongues are the classical 
ones like Latin and Sanskrit and Modern Lithuanian and 
Russian. 

This view of the cyclical movement certainly appears to 
be true in many cases but it does not take into account some 
important factors which will be examined in the ensuing 
discussion. The most important evidence against this theory 
is found in the Sanskrit dhatus and the language’s complex 
morphology. 

In this paper various reconstructed Proto-languages will 
not be examined at all. Studies of Romance languages 
attempting through the comparative method to arrive back at 
the original Proto-Romance i.e. Latin, achieved only very 
partial success - and we must note that the linguist who 
made this effort knew Latin (Hall 1950, 1970, 1985). A 
similar attempt comparing modern Indian languages to arrive 
at their original Proto-language, i.e. Sanskrit, again yields 
only a partial success - and again the scholar knew Sanskrit 
(Southworth 1958). 

E. Pulgram pointed out caustically (1958: 147) that, 
without documentation, our picture of classical Latin would 
have been quite different, since Romance languages today 
have for ‘horse’ derivatives from the late vulgar Latin 
caballus (French cheval, Italian cavallo etc) whereas Cicero, 
Virgil and Tacitus used equus (the common IE stem found in 
S asva etc). Take another example. Modern Greek has verbal 
stems adrachn- ‘grasp’, deichn- ‘show’, didchn- ‘chase 
away’, richn- ‘throw’, sprochn- ‘push’, phtiachn- ‘make’. 
Now, at first sight one would think that these stems had the 
same more or less final conjunct in Ancient Greek, also. 
However, documentation shows that the original stems differ 


238 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

almost incredibly: number one is adratt-, two is deikn -, 
three is diok-, four is rhipt-, five is eis-pro-oth- and six is 
eutheiaz-\ We know only because we have rich 
documentation - from Homeric through Hellenistic and 
Byzantine Greek up to our own times. A different aspect is 
seen in cognates English devil, French diable etc; here again, 
only documentation reveals that all these are loans from Gk 
diabolos ‘twister, ill-speaker'. Finally, Hungarian hazia) 
‘house’, indeed, looks very much like the various Germanic 
cognations for ‘house’ but documentation shows that they 
are not related because the older Hungarian word is kaz-. 

The examples given illustrate clearly the dangers 
involved in reconstructing Proto-languages and since there is 
no means whatever of verifying the reconstructions, these 
remain unreliable. Consequently all efforts dealing with 
Proto-this and Proto-that (with asterisks ***) seem to me 
wasteful and worthless. I shall consider hereafter evidence 
from only actual historical, well-attested languages and refer 
to Proto-Indo-Europeans only for some specific cases borne 
out by Sanskrit. 

It is as well to remember that language is not an organic 
entity like a plant or an animal that grows and degenerates 
due to biological processes; nor a material artefact like a 
spoon, a pianoforte or an aeroplane that will change and 
decay after a period even if it is not used. A language 
changes only because of human action which is always 
purposeful, but sometimes irrational, often mechanical, 
erratic or accidental and unpredictable. The only certain 
principle governing human action is the desire for greatest 
gain, or the best result, with the least effort. 

Linguistic changes are known only after the event and, of 
course, only if there is ample and detailed documentation. 
The so-called “laws” of linguistic changes are abstracted 
from such well-documented periods, areas and phenomena 
and apply only to those specific periods, areas and 
phenomena. As M. Alinei puts it: “The rules are determined 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 239 

a posteriori, they take into consideration only changes that 
have taken place, and do not represent a ‘law’ existing prior 
to change itself, independent of it and therefore 
foreseeable” (2005: 22). Talk of “universal” or “constant” 
laws of change is sheer nonsense. The only universal or 
constant aspect of linguistic change is that for that period, 
area and phenomenon the result was the easiest, simplest 
and most convenient in the circumstances. 

Thus the tendency of innovations or changes is towards 
simplicity or ease rather than complexity and difficulty. Let 
me give some examples. First Latin > Italian factus > fatto , 
septem > sette, somnus > sonno-, etc. etc. Or a similar process 
in Sanskrit > Pali: mukta > mutto, abja > ajjo, sabda > saddo-, 
etc etc. Then take American spelling: thru < through, valor < 
valour, etc. etc. Finally an example from Greek: the perfect 
was generally formed with reduplication of the initial of the 
stem and the ending -ka: thus luo ‘loosen’ gave le-lu-ka 
‘I have loosened’. This is very simple. But we also have thud 
‘sacrifice’ giving te-thu-ka and phu-o > pe-phu-ka and even 
aito> ei-te-ka, or elauno ‘move forth’ > el-ela-ka or omnumi 
‘swear’ om-omo-ka. On the whole, this is hardly a simple 
and convenient situation: it taxes the memory. So when the 
periphrastic perfect was developed in classical times with 
the auxiliary echo and the form lusei (or thusei, elasei etc), 
the reduplicated forms fell into desuetude and for centuries 
now Mod Gk has only the periphrastic perfect - in the 
passive as well ( echo luthe ‘I have loosened myself’). The 
same is observable in Mod English, Italian, etc. 

Different declensions and conjugations with different 
stems (and often endings) tax the memory. It is more 
convenient to have streamlined declensions and only a few 
auxiliaries for conjugations (‘to be’ and ‘to have’): the result 
is a much easier situation all round. 

Unfortunately, linguists produce their theories and 
reconstructions without taking into account this simple 
principle. 


240 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

2. R. Dixon refers (1997: 42 n 11) to S. Delancey (1985) 
who offers a useful discussion and evidence for this cyclical 
phenomenon. But before going on with this, we should 
define more clearly the phenomenon. 

The movement is said to be from a fully syntactic 
condition with the barest morphology to agglutination and 
some morphological developments through synthesis of 
stems and various kinds of postpositions for nouns and for 
verbs; then to more complex morphology such as found in 
Latin, Old English etc; then to attrition of endings (mostly) 
and dissolution of the complex inflected forms back into an 
increasingly syntactic position using auxiliaries like Italian 
and Mdn English. Using S/s for syntax, C for Complex and M/ 
m for morphology the movement can be represented as 

S/m -» M/s -> CM/s —» S/m 

We could remove the CM/s stage or introduce additional 
grades but the stages given explain adequately the cyclic 
process (a modification of Hodge 1970). J. O. Askedal refers 
to other authorities and describes this “cyclical evolution” as 
follows (2001: 1635): 

A. agglutination B. fusional inflection 

D. isolation C. phonetic attrition 

Various other models and more refined versions (pp 
1635-6) do not differ substantially from the basic pattern. 
He himself examines various concepts of typological 
change and concludes that “theories of typological 
cyclicity ... are in general conjectural due to the fact that, 
as far as we can tell, no known languages or language 
families have been attested in all the stages required for 
completing a full cycle” (ibid). 

Theoretically one could start at any main stage of the 
pattern but the general notion is that languages started at 
the isolating or syntactic analytic stage (Campbell 1993; 
Hirt 1927-34; etc). 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 241 

3. S. Delancey indeed examines the circular motion 
within languages of the Tibeto-Burman family. He takes 
examples from three stages of directive verbs (for motion): 
he says that this “directive category is regularly reinvented in 
the TB languages and almost as regularly lost again” (p 367). 
We have no reason to doubt Delancey’s claim with regard to 
the TB family of languages. But we do find a problem in that 
the cyclic pattern is not given by him in any one language. 
He gives one stage in Newari and another in Lahu and yet 
others in other languages. He actually points out that any one 
stage may “be stable over time” as indeed happens with 
“syntacticized motion verb constructions” in the Tai 
languages (p 385). He writes that in Serna “the process of 
grammaticalization is complete” in that motion verbs gwo 
‘go’ and re ‘come’ which appear as separate verbs in other 
tongues, here agglutinate into gwo/wu ‘go’ and gwo-re 
‘come’ (p 372). More evidence of these stages is given in the 
subsequent pages but, again the examples of syntactical to 
morphological to syntactical stages are taken from different 
languages and reconstructions of proto-languages - Akha, 
Loloish, Nujaang etc (pp 374 ff). But, as we said, this cycle 
can be accepted starting, say, with motion verbs used 
syntactically as specifiers of deictic orientation for other 
verbs; then “these syntacticized morphemes begin to 
agglutinate into the verb complex" in the process of 
morphologization (p 380). 

4. The Finno-Ugric family offers a much clearer and more 
convincing case of this cyclic pattern, or at least the segment 
where syntactical morphemes like noun-stems and various 
types of postpositions agglutinate and produce morphological 
flection (or grammaticalization). We take Hungarian as the 
example. 

Hungarian undoubtedly exhibits for some centuries now 
the on-going process of moving from a purely agglutinative 
typology to a fusional one: Sm —> Ms (where Sm = 
predominantly syntactic; Ms = predominantly 


242 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

morphological). This is pre-eminently obvious in the 
nominal forms where various morphemes as postpositions 
have become fixed terminations. E.g.: 

a haz<j> ‘the house’ with zero marker for the Nom Sing. 
a haz-ban ‘within the house’, Loc Sing. 
a haz-ak-ban ‘in the houses’, Loc PI. 

The a is the definite article. In the third form the suffix 
-(d)k is that for the plural and the a is auxiliary (cf gyereK-e) 
‘child’ Nom Sing, gyerek-ek ‘children’ Nom Pi). The suffix 
-ban is a reduced form of an old (but still existing and 
productive) noun bele ‘interior’ + the suffix -n ‘in, within’ 
(Marcantonio 2000: 8.3-2, where several more such 
morphemes are given). Thus strictly speaking, we have ‘in 
[the] interior of the house’. One should note here that the 
plural marker -ak precedes the locative suffix -ban. Anyway, 
one finds similarly haz-zal ‘with/ by means of [the] house’, 
the Instrumental case; or haz-nak ‘to/ of [the] house’ which 
is both Dative and Genitive; and so on. Depending on how 
one wishes to count, one finds that the language has now 
18 to 22 cases. 

However, despite this increasingly complex 
morphology, the agglutinative character does not seem to be 
lost. Unlike the Classical IE languages, in Hungarian the 
marker for the case comes at the very end. Not only the 
plural marker but also the possessive one precedes the case 
ending. When there is a personal, possessive marker, then 
the plural marker is -i (or -a-i). E.g.: 
a haz-a-i-m ‘my houses’ 
a haz-a-i-m-ban ‘in my houses’ 

While now the suffix -ban has become a definite locative 
marker, it is not like the terminations of Sanskrit or Latin or 
Lithuanian which give greater elasticity and subtlety. E.g. 
Sanskrit: 

vastu vastusu ‘house’ —> ‘in houses’ (Loc Pi) 
mama vastusu or vastusu mama ‘in my houses’ 

( madvastusu or vastusu me ‘in my houses’; 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 243 

madiyasu vastusu or vastusu madiyasu ‘in my houses’). 
Thus while Sanskrit shows greater freedom in word- 
order, Hungarian morphology seems to have the same fixity 
as that of the English invariable sequence ‘in my houses’. 
Thus this fusional character is very limited. 

Nouns have no gender, not even the small degree that 
English displays. Absence of gender is observable in all 
Finno-Ugric languages from their very earliest attestation 
(Marcantonio, ibid). 

The verb conjugation shows, according to some 
authorities a movement in the opposite direction, if anything, 
towards simplification, although others dispute this. It is said 1 
that Hungarian, by the late stage of its Old Period (before 
1500 CE) had developed six tenses: Past Narrative 
(preterite), Past Finite and Past Complex (perfective); 
Present; Future Simple and Future Complex. Today there is 
only Past Finite and Present. So, in effect, there are only two 
tenses, past and non-past. 

Futurity is expressed by the Present and some adverb. 
In literary forms, it is expressed by the conjugated auxiliary 
fog and the infinitive: thus - 

fogorn vami/adni ‘I shall wait/give’ etc. 

Sometimes the prefix meg- is used to the same effect: 
e.g. megirom ‘I shall write’, where ir- is the verb stem and 
om the 1st person termination for the Definite construction 
(-om marking an indefinite statement like ‘I (shall) write a 
book (sometime)’. 

The Past Finite continues today with the marker(s) -t/-tt 
as in vartam ‘I waited’ and tanit-ott-am ‘I taught’. The older 
language had also the Past Complex (a kind of Perfect or 
Pluperfect with the invariable auxiliary vala) as in - 
elementem vala ... es meghalgattem 
‘I had gone ... and [then] listened.’ 


1 Encyclopaedia Humana Hungarica: on the Internet - http:// 
mek. oszk. hu/01900/01993/html/index2. html 



244 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

The Past Narrative had a full conjugation in the indicative 
both for transitives and intransitives (again Encyclopaedia 
Hungarica Humana): e.g. - 

trans: vardm, varad, vara, vdrok, varatok., varak. 
intrans: varek, vardl, vara, varank, varatok, varanak. 
However, all this is said to be rare literary formations 
(including the inflected Fut) and not original Old Hungarian. 
Be that as it may, the verb does not show any indications of 
moving, like the noun, towards greater fusional complexity. 

Another interesting point in Hungarian (and Finno-Ugric) 
is the Vowel Harmony. This is an aesthetic phenomenon 
where suffix vowel(s) must agree with stem vowel(s) - 
whether front or back vowels ( nyelv-em ‘my language’ but 
haz-am ‘my house’): there is no grammatical or semantic 
function, as with the Germanic ablaut system, exhibited in 
English sing, sang, sung and ring, rang, rung. We note also 
that even in Modern as well as in Old Hungarian this rule is 
not followed in several cases. Scholars give examples from 
both periods: e.g. (Marcantonio 2000: 8.5): 

Old: bu-a-beleul ‘from her sorrow’ 

Mdn: bu-ja-bol ‘from her sorrow’. 

I wonder whether this Vowel Harmony having no 
grammatical function at all and, really, serving no semantic 
purpose, is not a devolution from a remote state of the 
language which had an ablaut system similar to the one in 
Germanic or in Sanskrit with full semantic force. 

5 . C.T. Hodge makes references to Finno-Ugric including 
Hungarian (1970: 2) and to other languages (p 3) but focuses 
on his specialty, Ancient Egyptian and its later transformation 
into Coptic (p 3ff) and, more specifically, on the verb. He 
states that Late Egyptian lost much of the flectional 
morphology of the Old language but Coptic, evolving as it 
did out of Late Egyptian (with the help of Greek and 
Christianity), developed an equally complex system. This had 
eight basic tenses for the verb, four affirmative and four 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 245 

negative and many more satellite constructions - which are 
not explained. (The negative tenses are just that, and hardly 
count; but one future, one present and two past tenses 
certainly give a complex morphology.) Citing earlier 
authorities he says: “the Old Egyptian syntactic verb of the 
suffix conjugation changed into the analytic Late Egyptian 
verb, and finally into the Coptic synthetic verb of the prefix 
conjugation”. He stresses this change (p 4): “The interesting 
aspect is the almost total loss of the inflected forms - with 
suffixes - and the later appearance of inflected forms with 
‘prefixes’ (or noun subjects in that position).” 

This change can be seen clearly in a simple example 
(from Loprieno 2004: 180): 

a) OEg: sdm.hr-f Coptic: sa-f-sotm 

hear+Aor+he Aor+he+hear 

Both denote habitual action with present meaning: ‘he 
usually hears'. 

Here we sense a difficulty in that ‘inflection’ has always 
been associated with suffixes and terminations in declension 
and conjugation, not with prefixes of pronouns and nouns in 
that position. In fact, the Coptic verb has not gained any 
inflections but shows now an agglutinative aspect with 
prefixes. This is as rigid as any agglutinative system (e.g. 
Hungarian) and an analytic syntactical sequence (e.g. 
English). Hodge gives the sentence (p 5) - 

b) sbte pekoagye tarousotmef 

‘prepare your and-the-result-will-be-that 

speech (ter-) they ( ou ) hear it (e/)’ 

The noun has masculine and feminine gender which is 
distinguished, not by a suffix as in OEg, but by the definite 
article: p-rome ‘the man’ (m), t -sone ‘the sister’ (f). There is no 
dual, as there was in OEg, and the plural is given by the 
prefix-marker ne/ni which is the plural definite article - 
through a few nouns do have a plural suffix. Since neither 



246 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

OEg nor Coptic have noun declensions we need no pursue 
this matter further. 

The Old language was flectional but at its Late stage 
moved towards a syntactic condition; but, as Hodge observes 
(p 5), at no time do we find a purely syntactic state. Although 
polysynthetic, the Coptic morphology is, in fact, fairly fixed 
so that the verb has a prefix marker conveying “aspectual, 
temporal or modal features, followed by the nominal or 
pronominal subject and by the infinitive” (Loprieno 2004: 
181): e.g. a-i-hmoos Past-Pronoun-Verb = ‘I sat down’; 
a-p-rome sotm Past-Article- Noun- Verb ‘the man heard’. 
There are some minor variations and, of course, more 
extended sentences. 

However, neither Coptic nor Old Egyptian have the 
complex morphology of Latin or Sanskrit. Old Egyptian itself 
had already lost certain features that are common in other 
descendants of Proto-Afro-Asiatic like the dual number and 
cases Nom. Acc. Gen. and perhaps Directive (Huehnergard 
2004: 146); there may have been even a neuter gender in 
the distant past, now expressed by curious feminine 
constructions, as pointed out by A. Gardiner (1957: 86, 
§ 111; 271, §354). J. Huehnergard states that in the 
descendants of Proto-Afro-Asiatic some nouns “are 
construed as both masculine and feminine” (2004: 147): this 
suggests indeed a former neuter gender but this is very 
speculative. A. Loprieno cites Hodge (1970) and states 
explicitly that in Coptic the former analytic patterns of Late 
Egyptian “are reanalysed as polysynthetic structures 
(sentence and clause conjugations) marked by heavy 
prefixing” (2001: 1760). Nonetheless this change S/m —> M/s 
is a minor one (mostly verbal) and, in any event, Coptic not 
only did not develop a more complex morphology but, in 
fact, froze into its own syntactic patterns like English. 
(Loprieno does not make a similar statement in 2004.) 

6. Most academics like to conjecture about this subject in 
order to fill gaps. Hodge does the same in respect of Proto- 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 247 

Afro-Asiatic. He thinks that this was probably predominantly 
syntactic whereas others now say it was fusional 
(Huehnergard 2004: 140). He also uses assumptions from 
other scholars to arrive at the conclusion that “morphology is 
the result of syntactic constructions”. In this he agrees with 
earlier linguists, like F. Bopp, K. Brugmann, H. Hirt and 
others (Hodge, 2-3) and cites from them several relevant 
passages. We take one of these citations from Brugmann 
which illustrates this view: “In the parent language, phrases 
made up of a word denoting some condition or action and a 
personal pronoun, used as a sentence in which the latter was 
subject and the former predicate, coalesced and became a 
single word: this is the origin of all finite verb-forms” 
(Hodge, 3). 

To be fair, Hodge cites also Otto Jespersen who holds 
the opposite view. This is all very well as a theoretical 
generalisation but no scholar (to my knowledge) shows with 
concrete examples what post positional pronouns, or other 
significant morphemes, as is obvious in Hungarian (§4), 
coalesce with words of “condition or action” to become 
terminations in nouns and verbs. 

Like many an indoeuropeanist, egyptologist Hodge does 
not quite realize the fact that we know nothing about PIE 
beyond the conjectural reconstructions which can’t be 
verified! But he ought to know that Hirt and others are 
merely making assumptions about PIE. Moreover, by the late 
1960’s even the conjectured reconstructions showed that PIE 
had a most complex morphology - as will be demonstrated 
herein below, on the basis of the extant branches. Hodge 
ought to see also that using Yakut, a Turkic language, to 
claim a syntactic origin for IE inflections as Hirt had done 
(Hodge, 3) is methodologically unacceptable. 

Hodge also seems to think that Hittite is closest to PIE, 
again as most indoeuropeanists continue to think. This is still 
controversial. Undoubtedly Hittite retains several archaic 
elements but nothing (apart from the controversial laryngeals) 


248 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

that is not found to differing extents in one or another branch. 
But we have yet to see a reasoned explanation why this 
supposedly archaic language lacks so many features common 
to the IE branches: i.e. the stem for horse (L equus, Mycenaen 
iqo-, S asva etc); the stems for the eight commonest 
relationships - brother, daughter, father, husband, mother, 
sister, son, wife; the third gender; the dual; the roots as seen in 
Sanskrit (to be explained below). Moreover, it has (apart from 
the smothering elements from non-IE languages of the Near 
East) auxiliaries like man, which, with the present indicative, 
forms conditional modality and which hittitologists regard as 
rather modern (as Hodge himself admits, p 5). All in all, Hittite 
shows a state of devolution from a complex morphology like 
that of later Iranian branches from Old Avestan (Sims- 
Williams 2006: 140). Even so, with its six noun-cases, its two 
distinct verb conjugations (e.g. epmi ‘I take’ and arhi ‘I 
reach’), its Active and Mediopassive Voices and its tenses etc 
(Luraghi 2006: 182-5), Hittite is still a highly inflective 
language and Hodge is not justified in ascribing to it “a 
comparatively light morphology” (p 5) — a description 
appropriate rather for Old Egyptian and Coptic. Finally it is 
worth pointing out that several authorities have found traces 
of feminine termination (e.g. Melchert 1992; Weitenberg 
1987). 

7 . The contention for the cyclical S/m M/s CM/s -> S/ 
m is not attested in any known language or family of 
languages going as far back as 1500 or 3000 BCE (see §2). 
It has been erected on assumptions that have little basis on 
facts and reason. I say this advisedly because there is 
Sanskrit, little known to most linguists, which has a unique 
morphology that defies this hypothetical cyclicity and the 
assumptions supporting it. As was said, there is a spiral 
movement with smaller cycles that do, indeed, show shifts 
from syntactical to morphological, back to syntactical stages 
and so on, but the general direction is from CM/s to S/m. 
At least this is what Sanskrit indicates - and by Sanskrit I 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 249 

mean the entire Old Indie language including the earliest 
Vedic stage. This language has features which cannot be 
explained away by the linguistic assumptions and processes 
given by those who support circularity. 

8. Alone of all known languages Sanskrit has dhatus, i.e. 
actual roots which generate both nominal declension and 
verbal conjugation: thus Vzs> is (m) ‘lord’ and zs-te ‘reigns’; 
'Irue > rue (f) ‘lustre’ and aru-ruc-at (redupl aor) ‘one 
shone’; V sad> sad (adj) ‘sitting’ and d-sad-at (aor) ‘one sat’; 
etc. 

As the word ‘root’ is often (mis-)used for ‘stem’, we shall 
use hereafter the term dhatu. Some 2000 dhatus, ‘seedforms’ 
really, are recorded in Sanskrit but only about 700 appear 
also in the early Vedic literature 2 and of these only 200 are 
actually nominal and verbal - and not theoretical postulates. 
The others were pushed out of use as radical nominal forms 
probably by other primary derivatives: e.g. y lam ‘moving, 
injuring’ and ama (m) ‘pressure, illness’; 'Jkr ‘doing’ and 
hard (m/f/n) ‘doer, making’ and krt (adj at end of 
compounds) ‘making’; sljiv and jiva (adj) ‘living’, (m) ‘living 
soul’; etc. Even so the 200 are an inheritance that cannot be 
overlooked. The nominal endings and the verbal affixes 
(suffixes and infixes) also cannot be overlooked in the 
present discussion. As T. Elizarenkova put it, “the verb-root 
[i.e. dhatu ] is basic to both inflexion and derivation ... it is 
irrelevant that for some roots such nouns are not attested” 
(1995:50). In other words originally all nouns and verbs had 
or arose out of dhatus but, for various reasons most dhatu- or 
root-nouns were lost. The notion that the dhatu is an 
abstraction made by grammarians should therefore be 
dismissed: the ancients knew the dhatus as generators of 
both nouns and verbs through certain grammatical, phonetic 
regulations. 


2 It would not be entirely reasonable to expect that all existing dhatus 
would have been used in the early texts. 



250 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

At the outset it should be said that Sanskrit has suffered 
losses and has made innovations but probably to a lesser 
degree than other IE branches (Fortson 2004). Some devout 
Hindus declare that this devavani ‘language of the gods’ is 
eternal and, in fact, the Proto-Indo-European language, but 
obviously they do not take into account simple facts of 
change within the well-documented language. To take one 
example, the form, say, for Nom dual m. asvina ‘two 
horsemen’ eventually gave way totally to the form asvinau. 
Another change is the abandonment of the richly inflected 
forms, especially verbs, in favour of very long compounds. 
However, neither the attritions nor the innovations will 
engage our attention except in so far as the former show, in 
association with other IE branches, that PIE must have had an 
incredibly complex morphology. 

Some scholars hold that the dhatu is the original 
language-unit and that people thought and spoke in dhatus. 
Thus an Indian scholar dismisses various theories about the 
original structure of language in general and concludes that 
“what we can accept without any contention is the statement 
that every root is the undeveloped sentence of primitive 
man” (Chakravarti 2003: 220). This may have been so, but 
we have no proofs. So let us look at the facts exhibited by 
Sanskrit. 

One fact we must bear in mind is that of vowel 
strengthening (ablaut). Sanskrit has five basic vowels arising 
at distinct places of articulation and then undergoing two 
degrees of strengthening - guna (‘twine, multiplier, 
secondary’ etc) and vrddhi (‘full growth’). 



Guttural Palatal 

Retroflex 

Dental 

Labial 

Simple 

a (schwa £e ?) 

i 

r 

I 

u 

Guna 

a 

e 

ar 

al 

o 

Vrddhi 

a 

ai 

ar 

al 

au 


kanthya 

talavya 

murdhanya 

dantya 

osthya 


Clearly there is asymmetry with the the a/a. We can only 
speculate and one useful idea is that the simple vowel was 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 251 

schwa ae (?). Also metrical considerations often but not always 
show that a very short a should be understood to exist 
between a consonant in conjunction with - r- or a nasal; this is 
called in the Pratisakyas (=manuals of pronunciation) 
svarabhakli ‘vowel-section’: e.g. Indara for Indra, yajana for 
yajna etc. 

The retroflex ris often said to arise close to the dental /but 
this does not affect our discussion and the / is found only in 
one dhatu V kip ‘be suited’. The a obviously does not follow 
the regular pattern. While e and o are long (in the Guna 
grade), a, ar and al are short. But these too don’t affect our 
discussion. 

Only Sanskrit of all IE branches has this almost invariable 
graduation and has 10 distinct classes of dhatus from which 
are generated families of words (verbs, nouns, adjectives). 

9 . In the native Dhatupatha ‘Lists of seedforms’ are given 
10 categories or classes of dhatus that develop as verbs with 
very particular morphological features. The tenth is mostly 
denominative and need not occupy us. 

a) Class 1, bhvadi, the V bhu ‘becoming’ and the rest 
strengthen their vowel ( bhu > bho-- cit > cet; sip > sarp--, etc) 
then take suffix -a- unaccented, which is the class marker, and 
then the verbal terminations for the person, number, mood, 
tense and voice, which are the same endings for all classes. 
Thus, 'lcit > cet- > cet-a-ti ‘one knows, perceives’; similarly 

krs > kars- > kars-a-ti ‘one drags (something)’. The accent 
falls on the stem vowel. But the ending for the middle voice is 
different kdrsa-te ‘one drags (something) for oneself and is 
the same ending for the passive, which is formed with the 
dhatu itself and its own accented marker (= -yap krs-yd-te 
‘one is dragged’. The passive is formed similarly, with the 
dhatu and the (accented) marker -yd- and the middle-voice 
endings in all classes. 

Class 1 has the bulk of the dhatus, i.e. over 1000. 

b) Class 2 adddi , the 'lad ‘eating’ and the rest strengthen 
their vowel only for certain persons in certain moods and 


252 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

tenses then take the regular endings directly and have the 
accent on the stem in the strong persons and on the ending in 
the unstrengthened ones. Thus V dvis > dvesti ‘one hates’ but 
dvis-anti ‘they hate’. Here there is no marker at all. 

Note (i). This would seem to be the most natural way of 
conjugating a verb - affixing the endings directly to the 
modified, or not, root-stem. Old English does it, Latin, Greek 
and so forth - but with variations in the ablaut. On the other 
hand these branches have no dhatu as such, only stems. Even 
Hebrew has only a notional root of two and more commonly 
three consonants without actual independent existence as with 
S a/ ksudh > ksudh (j) ‘hunger’ and ksudh-yati ‘one hungers 
(after)’. 

Note (ii). Other tenses (i.e. perf, aor etc) do have 
strengthening as in 3rd perf di-dves-a ‘hated’ or a Imuh ‘be 
deluded > fut moh-isyati ‘will be deluded’, etc. 

c) Class 3, juhotyadi, the a Ihu ‘sacrifice’ and the rest have 
reduplication of the initial syllabe (and variants) and 
strengthen the root stem in certain persons etc as in class 2, 
then take the endings: e.g. a Ida > dd-dd-ti ‘one gives’ (already 
strengthened, or rather fully-grown); vis > vi-ves-ti ‘one is 
active’. Note that dhatus with initial h reduplicate with j: 
so a/ hu> ju-hoti, a/ hri> fi-hreti ‘one is ashamed’. It maybe that 
at a much earlier stage in PIE S| h|was a different consonant 
capable of devolving into both | h | and \j\ ; the equivalent 
Gk ch X (in ched, chous etc) would suggest some such origin. 
Here too we are speculating. There are other phonological 
peculiarities (a Ima > mi-ml-te ‘measures’ but perf mama--, 
'lhvar> ju-hur- ‘be crooked’; etc), but they do not affect the 
main issue — that these dhatus have reduplication. 

d) Class 4, divadi, the V div (or V div) ‘play, light, joy etc’ 
and the rest have their root-stem unmodified and accented and 
take the marker -ya- unaccented and then the usual 
terminations for present (all moods) and imperfect: dw-ya-ti, 
ksiidhyati ‘one hungers’, etc. 

But here some root stems show reduction as with a I spas > 
pas- ya- ‘see’, Riyadh > vldh-ya ‘pierce’ etc while others show 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 253 

lengthening as with V tam > tamya- ‘faint, darken’, isram > 
sramya- ‘be weary’ etc. 

So changes there were on many fronts, disturbing an 
original order which must have been marvellous but no 
longer reconstructible. 

e) Class 5 svadi, the 'Isu ‘press out, extract’ and the rest 
take affix no on strengthened persons (as in classes 2 and 3) 
and nu or -n- on the unmodified root-stem, then the endings: 
su-no-ti ‘presses out’, su-nu-ta ‘you (pi) press out’ (impv); 
Vsra > srnoti ‘one hears’, srnvdnti ‘they hear’; etc. The affixes 
no/nu are very simply markers for this 5th class: they have no 
semantic function that we know of! 

One could speculate and argue that this nu affix derives 
from a morpheme like the Sanskrit particle nu/nu ‘now, still, 
now then’ or the Latin nunc, but there is no such significance 
in any of the Vedic dhatus. Nor is it a present-action marker 
since we find it in past action as asmu-an ‘they were listening 
to’, avmo-t ‘one covered’. In Hittite, verbs in -nu had the 
function of causatives! We would be speculating and arguing 
only to support a theory based on recent not ancient facts. 

0 Class 6 tudadi, the V tud ‘thrust’ and the rest take the 
marker -d- as in Class 1, but here in class 6 accented, on the 
unmodified root-stem, and then the endings: tud-a-ti 
‘one strikes, thrusts’, m iksip > ksipati ‘throws’, > Idis > disati 
‘shows’ etc. These dhatus have strengthening in certain 
persons of the perfect, the future and the causative (as with 
most dhatus of all classes). 

In taking the affix -a -as its marker this class, the second 
most numerous, resembles the first class but the marker is 
accented here and the stem remains unmodified in the 
present and imperfect - unlike class 1 which has modified 
root-stem. 

g) Class 7 is the most peculiar of all in that it takes an infix 
in the stem, then the endings after its final radical phoneme. 
This rudhadi class has the V rudh ‘obstruct’ and just over 20 
more dhatus which take the infix na for strong persons and 
the -n- for the others: rudh > ru-na-ddhi ‘one obstructs’ 


254 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

(■ <ru+na-dh+ti ) due to rules of sandhi ‘euphonic 
combination’; again, V yuj > ju-na= k(<j)-ti ‘joins, yokes’ and 
'lpis > pi-na-s-ti ‘one crushes’. The marker na is accented. 
In the unstrenghtened forms we find simply -n- as in yu-n-k-te 
‘one joins for oneself (middle voice) where the accent shifts 
to the termination. 

Here we find corroboration from Latin iu-n-g-o ‘yoke’ 
and Gk }eug-nu-mi ‘yoke’ This Gk nu is not the infix na/n- 
but a suffix found in other Gk verbs, like deik-nu-mi 
‘indicate’and we should note well that only Greek has this 
formation since other branches do not show it at all: S disati, 
Ossetic (=Persian) dw-dis-yn, L dic-o, Gm - teih-an/}eig-en 
Hit tekkus-ai-. 

h) Class 8 tanadi, the 'ltan ‘stretch’ and the rest take the 
affixes o/u (in parallel to no/nu exactly) but since all seven or 
eight dhatus end in -n they behave like those of class 5. Thus: 
tan-6-ti ‘one stretches’, tan-u-anti > tan-vanti ‘they stretch’; 
>Ivan > van-6-ti ‘one wins’, van-u-thas ‘you two win 
(pres. dual). 

At first sight these dhatus might as well belong to the 5th 
class. And most sanskritists do assign them there (e.g. 
MacDonell 1916). However, this is an error. First, the ancient 
Indian grammarians did not do so and they were not less 
observant or less intelligent than modern Western linguists. 
Moreover, they had much more material at their disposal 
than we do. Class 5 dhatus like Asu, sru, kr. dhu etc have no 
noun-forms with n in the stem (except very rarely some late 
and questionable forms: Whitney 1885). But dhatus of the 
8th class like Vton, and >, ivan have tan-a ‘offspring’, tan-aya 
‘posterity, belonging to a family’, tan-tra ‘loom, principal 
part’ etc, then van-as ‘longing’, van-i-ta ‘loved woman’, 
van-us ‘eager’ etc. Thus the dhatus and affixes are different. 
In the eighth class the -n belongs to the original dhatu. 

However, as these dhatus are very few we can sidestep 
them. One example more or less will not make any 
difference to the main argument. 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 255 

0 Class 9, kry-adi, 'Ik.ri ‘buying’ and the rest (over 60) 
take as their class marker accented na in the usual 
strengthened persons, and unaccented ni (but n before 
endings with initial vowel) in the other persons and then the 
endings: e.g. kn-na-ti ‘one buys’, kn-n-anti ‘they buy’. 

Here we can branch off and follow F. de Saussure (19th 
cent.) and other linguists who agree with him and evince 
admiration at the conclusion that these suffixes na/ni/n- have 
been produced from the 7th signs, strong and weak infixes 
na/n-. So also in V mi > minati ‘one damages, lessens’, minitas 
‘the two damage’; or V bandh > badh-na-ti ‘one binds’, badh- 
n-anti ‘they bind’ etc. A simplified description of the 
evolution of this pair of affixes from the 7th class ones is 
found in B. Fortson (2004: 75-6). But since no explanation is 
given by anybody for the lengthening of na to na and n to ni 
and since the analytical reasoning seems highly specious, we 
hold such ‘discoveries’ totally unacceptable. Why would a 
rather simple people (and nomadic, as the mainstream theory 
goes) produce yet another class of verbs when the new signs 
na/ni/n- have no apparent semantic difference? There does 
not seem to be any reason! We must also bear in mind another 
unexplained phenomenon, that is the fact that several of these 
verb-stems appear as full cognates in other IE branches. 
A good example found in several branches, not just Greek or 
Latin, is V&n, knnati itself: we find Gk per-nu-mi ‘sell, export’ 
(the k/p correspondence in S and Gk is not uncommon), O Ir 
cre-n-aid ‘one buys’ and O Rus kre-n-dti. Consequently we 
must accept that the na/ni/n as marker of a class was present in 
PIE itself (and probably had a semantic function which we can 
no longer figure out). However, this point also does not affect 
substantially the argument. 

j) There is a tenth class, Vcur> cor-aya-ti ‘steals’ etc, but 
since it seems to be a secondary, derivative class (causatives, 
nominals etc) we can bypass it. Again it makes no difference 
to the argument. 


256 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

10 . The argument is that, contrary to what Hodge and 
others claim about suffixes being originally pronouns or 
other morphemes (or ‘formatives’) that came to be affixed 
onto the stems of verbs and so produced conjugation (§5), 
these affixes (suffixes, infixes and endings) were such 
formatives from the PIE period as far as one can see. For, 
surely, who can in all seriousness claim that these Sanskrit 
(and corresponding but unknown) PIE affixes were floating 
about in PIE and somehow got agglutinated to the stem 
which in some cases felt so swollen that it pushed out its 
initial phoneme in reduplication? Then, by what 
extraordinary process did the 7th class sign na/n wind its way 
into the root-stem? True, other languages display the similar 
phenomenon of having an infix inside the stem. S. Anderson 
gives two examples: in Chichasaw (Muskogean) a verb is 
made negative by the insertion of a glottal stop before the 
final (plus two other changes); in Palavan (Micronesian) the 
past tense sign is an infix as menga ‘eat’ and m-il-enga ‘ate’ 
(1985: 165-6). But, in the IE verbs we are examining, this 
na/n infix has no such semantic function that we know of! 

However, first let us establish clearly the fact that most if 
not all the Sanskrit affixes we considered above, markers and 
endings, are PIE. 

First, the suffixes n/na/na/m/nu/no. The distinctions are 
not at all apparent in other IE branches but the presence of -n- 
is indisputable. Take some examples: S Ayuj (7th class) > 
yuma-k-ti ‘joins’ appears in Gk as zeug-nu-mi ‘I join’, L iu-n- 
go ‘I yoke, join’ and Lith ju-n-kti ‘to join’; S V str (5th and 9th) 
> str-no-ti (str-na -ti) ‘strews, spreads’ appears in Gk as stro- 
nnu-mi (and stor-nu-mai)’ spread, strew’; Alb stri-n-j-, L ster- 
n-ere , O Ir serm -im - all ‘spread, strew’; S V mi (9th) > mi-na-ti 
‘lessens’ appears in Gkas mi-nu-(th)-o, L mimu-ere (some see 
this as a simple root min- but then there is the affix -u-), 
Cornish mim-ow ‘reduce’ and Gm mins ‘less’, SI mi-ni-ji- 
‘younger’. Thus at least one affixal form ( n/na/nu or 
whatever) was operative in PIE. 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 257 

Is there a pronoun or other morpheme resembling this 
suffix? 

Well, yes there is the S enclitic nau ‘we two’ (=Gk not) 
for Acc, Dat, Gen; then nas ‘of, to us’ and L nos ‘we, us’. But 
obviously these forms can have no relation, however distant, 
with the suffixes na, nu etc. There is also, as said above in (e) 
and (g), the S particle nu, Gk nuin. ), L nunc, all meaning 
‘now, indeed ; but this particle too does not appear in any 
way related to our suffixes. If we take the sense of ‘now’ we 
can claim that, yes, the suffix enters for the present stem. 
Against this, are the facts that the suffix enters for the 
imperfect also (I was, used to, did ...) and that only certain 
verbs took it; when these verbs are examined, they are seen 
to have little in common that would bring them together in a 
distinct (or several) category(s): krnoti ‘do, make’, yunakti 
‘join’, minati ‘lessen’, strnati ‘spread’ etc. 

Another consideration is that we find the suffixes a 
accented and a unaccented and the ya unaccented (4th class). 
The affix a resembles the deprivative prefix a- (e.g. a-ja 
‘not-born’, a-yukta ‘not joined, yoked’) and the prefix or 
preposition a ‘from, until’, but, again, neither seems at all 
relevant. The relative ya ‘who(ever)’ certainly resembles the 
affix -ya- but does not seem to have the slightest semantic 
relevance. Here again, the 4th class verbs (e.g. div-ya-ti 
‘plays’, man-ya-ti ’thinks’, sdm-ya-ti ‘feels weary’ and some 
90 more) do not, as far as we know, have anything special in 
common to form this class. Then again, -yd- accented is also 
the sign for the passive and evidently has no relation to the 
pronoun ya. 

This affix ya thus appears in 4th class stems without any 
(to us) obvious signification, to the passive voice and in the 
aya affix of the causatives and denominatives. Here again 
one could speculate and argue but only from recent, 
historical forms and conjectural forms with asterisks which 
may or may not have existed, not from ancient, primary 


258 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

evidences (See, however, Diessel 1999-for an interesting 
view on morphology of demonstratives). 

11. Then there is the reduplicating class - S dd-da-ti, 
Gk di-do-si ‘he gives’. Reduplication is used also in the 
perfect: V tud (6th) > tu-tod-a ‘one (has) hit, pushed’; L cad-o 
‘fall’ > ce-cid-i , curr-o ‘run’ > cucurri- etc. We find in Gothic 
stai-stant- ‘struck’, hai-hai-t ‘sowed’; etc. It is also found 
outside the IE family: e.g. in Egyptian (Afro-Asiatic family) 
pt-pt ‘crush’, sn-sn ‘fraternize’ and so on. 

Surely nobody will seriously claim that this initial 
reduplication started with floating prepositions or other 
morphemes and because of their similarity with the stem got 
agglutinated to it. 

In Egyptian we observe the repetition (otherwise 
‘gemination’) of the entire stem: sn means ‘brother’, so 
‘brother-brother’ -4 ’fraternize’. But in the IE languages and 
especially Sanskrit the reduplication is not quite so 
mechanical and gross. Apart from verbs of the reduplicating 
type (Gk pi-pt- ‘fall’, L si-st- ‘stand’, S ji-jna- ‘know’ etc) we 
find that S has reduplication in the Desiderative conjugation 
which is the same (except some minor variations) for all 
classes: e.g. ji-jiv-i-set ‘let, may one wish to live’ (opt). Also 
for some aorists like d-ci-krs-am ‘I pulled, ploughed’ and the 
Intensive conjugation like car-krs-ati ‘they pull, plough 
repeatedly’. While the last case (the Intensive) seems 
reasonable and somewhat resembles the Egyptian sn-sn, all 
the other cases present no clues whatever indicative of why 
they have reduplication. 

Reduplication very obviously is a morphological and not 
a syntactical feature. What we don’t know, as with so many 
other things pertaining to PIE and language in general, is the 
exact significance of the phenomenon. 

12. Let us now examine affixes that are verbal 
terminations denoting person, mood, tense and aspect. 

Take 3rd, indicative, present of ‘to be’: S as-ti, Gk es-ti, 
L es-t, Gm is-t, SI jes-tu - all meaning ‘one is’. The PIE ending 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHA.TUS / 259 

must have had -ti or at least -t. But apart from the S neuter tad 
‘that one’ (and its cognates in the other branches), no other 
surviving independent pronoun comes anywhere near the 
ending. 

The Gk neuter article is to, also phonetically close to -t(i). 
But the masculine and feminine forms (e.g. S sa/sa and Gk 
ho/he) are unrelated to the ending. In the Afro-Asian 
languages certain persons are distinguished by masculine and 
feminine endings alone since there are only these 
two genders: e.g. Hebrew: he remembered zakhar, she 
remembered zakhdra(h) where -ah is also a common ending 
for feminines (as also -t as in emet ‘truth’) 3 . Now, IE neuters in 
S, Gk, L etc are mostly inanimate things or states that would 
be used with stative (or intransitive) verbs - be, become, flow, 
lie (somewhere), grow up, perish, shine and so on. Active 
entities like the wind, fire, sea, storm, fury and the like are like 
men and women, gods and goddesses, either masculine or 
feminine. So active verbs would have, we should think, 
masculine or feminine pronouns as endings (as with 
Hebrew?). But while the Sanskrit/Greek etc 3rd person sing 
present is the same for masc/fem/neut, the endings for 
masculine and feminine nouns (Nom) are numerous and 
varied. 

Let us take another example. The 1st plural is quite 
different: S s-mas, Gk es-men, L su-mus, Gm sijum, all ‘we 
are’. Let us say the original was something like *mas/mes. 
Here no 1st person plural pronoun comes near except perhaps 
Gk hemeis (Attic) and amines (Aeolic): the others are S vayam 
(and nas), Av vaem , Ht wes, L nos, Gth weis. Yes, it could be 
that here Greek retained the original form which agglutinated 
to the stem after attrition (ammes > *mes). But the terminations 
for the past tense are S -ma, Gk -men, Gm -ma, etc. Is it likely 
the Gk pronoun ammes suffered further attrition to generate 
these endings too? Possible but hardly probable. Because we 


3 There are still variant transliteration systems. 



260 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

have the medio-passive endings now: S ,-mahe, Tocharian 
amtar, Gk -metha or the aorist S -mahi, Toch -mte, Gk -metha. 
It is rather too much to expect that a single pronoun - and this 
in Greek only and severely lamed - gave all these endings. 

Let us take the 2nd singular: the independent pronoun for 
all genders is S tvam (enclitic te), Av tu (end. tot), Ht zik/tuk. 
(end. td), Arm dow, Gk su/tu (end. tot), L tu, SI ty (end. t.) etc. 
The PIE corresponding verb ending is active present *-si, past 
*-s, mediopassive *-se/ai/ther (anyone or other variant). They 
are all phonetically unrelated to the pronouns. Here, we have 
some possibilities, of course. We can only speculate that the 
Gk su generated the second singular endings over the 
centuries. But since Greek has tu as well, the possibility of su 
is very remote and rather improbable; the tu agreeing with the 
other forms in so many other branches (tu, tvam, ty, dow etc) 
was most probably the original PIE - or a morpheme like it, 
with U|. Then we do find endings phonetically related to tu 
(thou etc) but these (S. tha-na, Ht -teni, Gk -tes, L -tis etc) are 
of the second person plural. Again one may speculate and 
argue but only to move further away from simple facts. 

We could examine other endings too (e.g. 3rd pi: S -a(n)ti, 
Gk -ousi etc) but we would find that there are no pronouns that 
could even remotely have a phonetic similarity and thus 
provide a basis for such endings. 

13. There are, however, additional difficulties. Even if we 
allow the presence of all necessary dependent/enclitic 
pronouns, we must ask how they were suffixed to verbal 
stems after the non-semantic affix(es) na, nu or whatever. The 
IE people must have been quite numerous even when 
concentrated in one region and must have spread over a wide 
area judging by their later diffusion and the near certainty that 
at the time of the diffusion there already existed dialects 
(Burrow 1973). 

They had no writing then, nor, presumably, a central 
“educational” authority that would dictate the “correct” type 
of speech, nor, of course, mass media to inform the people in 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 26l 

remote places of changes in language usages. Even if 
phonological change is, according to most comparativists, 
uniform (something wholly hypothetical and by no means 
proven since the phonological environment was not the 
same: see §1), nonetheless it is very difficult to envisage how 
such morphological changes would be established in a non¬ 
literate society. The two changes S/m -> M/s mentioned earlier 
(§3, 4) in Hungarian and Coptic occurred in a highly literate 
society under the influence of a strong culture: Latin and 
Christian Europe for Hungarian and Greek and early 
Christianity for Coptic. 

But before we state anything definite we must examine the 
noun also. 

14 . With the nouns too we find strong and weak cases: in 
the strong cases the accent falls on the stem. But let us 
bypass this aspect and deal with the case endings. We saw 
that in Hungarian various morphemes as post-positions 
coalesce with the stem then, in a reduced form, become 
case-endings (§3). Can we say the same for Sanskrit or, more 
accurately, for PIE? 

The Sanskrit and the PIE endings for athematic nouns 
(f and m) coincide according to most (e.g. Fortson 2004: 103- 
5) at least in the Acc and Loc sing and Loc plural: these are - 
m, -i and -su respectively. These should provide adequate 
data. We note that, contrary to Hungarian, endings which 
often have two syllables and can be related to their original 
morphemes (some still independent nouns), these three (and 
all others in sing, dual and plu) are monosyllabic or even 
single-phoneme terminations which cannot be traced back to 
any obvious postpositional morphemes. There is no 
preposition or other morpheme in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin etc, 
that remotely resembles -m, -i and -su that might give these 
endings. Here certainly we could speculate and argue that a 
pronominal form of the first person, like S mama/me or 
Gk me, L mei etc (all ‘mine, of me’) could have supplied the 
ending -m. But the Acc sing is just as frequently constructed 



262 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

with the other two persons in all three numbers. Again it is 
possible that the Gen sing of the first person somehow, 
sometime, stuck, but how probable is this?... I consider it 
most improbable because we have no other parallel with the 
other endings of that ancient period. Moreover, there is no 
relic in Sanskrit of the Acc sing alone without the possessive 
pronoun: ‘I see my horse’ asvam mepasyami. 

There is one morpheme that could be connected with an 
ending. S abhi ‘to, towards’ is phonetically similar to the Dat 
pi ending -bhyas (which in PIE is given as *-bhios); the Instr 
pi is - this and the Instr, Dat, Abl dual are *-bhyam. So here we 
can visualize abhi as postposition joining the stem of nouns in 
the sense of ‘to, towards’ and losing the initial -a and gaining 
a final *-s, *-as and *-am - as in naribhyas gave ‘to women 
and to cattle’. But we have already met the difficulty of 
explaining the changes in phonology. The other difficulty is 
that there is no trace of this *(a)bhi(-s/-as-am ) in the 
corresponding case-endings of the singular. A third 
difficulty is that in Sanskrit from the earliest Vedic usage abhi 
is not post-positional but prefixed to (verbs and) nouns: 
abhikrdnti ‘the act of overpowering’, abhicdra ‘malevolent 
incantation’, abhidhdna ‘name’, abhibhu ‘one superior’ etc 
etc. Moreover, there are semantic difficulties as well. The 
sense of the Ablative is also ‘away from’: thus naribhyas in a 
different context could mean ‘(away) from’ or ‘more than, far 
above women’. Then, the Instrumental (-bhis in pi, -bhydm in 
dual) has no sense at all of ‘to, towards’. This case has 
instrumental and associative meaning: thus asvibhyam usdsd 
means ‘together with the two Asvins and Usas, the Dawn’. 
Here there is no semantic link at all with abhi. After all, 
Sanskrit (and presumably PIE) had other morphemes 
expressive of this sense - saha, sakam ‘with, jointly, together 
(with)’. Yet another difficulty is the variation in the meaning 
of the cognates of abhi in the other IE branches: Gk amphi ‘on 
both sides’, L amb- and Gm umbi (Mdn urn) ‘around, round’ 
etc. So again this agglutination seems remotely possible but 
extremely improbable. 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 263 

15. The Accusative in the classical languages expresses 
the direct object which invariably, without the mediation of 
another party, receives directly the energy, impact or 
influence of the action of the subject, agent. Even if we 
supposed that at some distant past a movement towards the 
direct object was expressed by some adverb, preposition or 
postpositional morpheme, Sanskrit has anu, abhi, -anta and 
-antika (at end of compounds) and prati, but nothing that 
would yield -m (Acc sing) without wholly unacceptable 
violence. So this ending has no known or conjectural origin 
in floating morphemes. Greek pros, epi, eis and the like (and 
similarly Latin) are in no way related. 

16. The endings -i (Loc. sing) and -su (Loc. plural) are just 
as unwilling to reveal their origination. There is, of course, 
Gk en, L in, Welsh yn, Armenian fete, all meaning ‘in’ and it is 
possible that the original form joined stems and lost the -n, as 
in Armenian. The trouble is that although there are hundreds 
of compounds with en/in as initial both in Greek and Latin, 
there is no enclitic/postpositional attestation of it in Latin and 
the Oxford Greek Dictionary (1996) gives only one enclitic 
use in the epic poetry {Odyssey 1.50). Even if we accepted this 
solution, we still have to account for -su (Loc plural). Sanskrit 
has antas ‘within’ (Gk entos, L inter, Gm untar etc all ‘among, 
in between’) but, obviously, this cannot be connected at all 
with su-, and the same difficulty has to be met with the dual 
locative -os (or whatever may have been the PIE ending). 

The three endings -m (Acc. sing), -i (Loc. sing), -su (Loc. 
plural) do not derive from any known postpositional 
morphemes with independent existence. I have dealt with 
them because they are accepted by indoeuropeanists as the 
same endings in PIE. Personally, I do not care at all for PIE 
reconstructions and never use them. But, in this case, I do 
refer to all the PIE nominal endings saying that all of them 
consist of one syllable or simple phoneme, as given in various 
publications on Indoeuropean languages (e.g. Fortson 2004: 
113; Clackson 2007: 97). I do not know if these are correct 
and, frankly, I have serious doubts about them, but neither for 


264 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

these nor for Sanskrit, Greek and Latin endings, do I find any 
morphemes that appear within reason to have been the 
originals. 

17 . It is very significant that scholars who make or repeat 
such claims, or build upon them, do not provide any such 
evidence from the rich field of IE languages. Consequently 
statements that PIE inflections derive from postpositional 
morphemes (nouns, pronouns or adverbial forms) sound 
highly arbitrary and injudicious. As I wrote several times 
earlier one can speculate and argue (and we love doing this 
when in fact we do not know) projecting backwards to the 
PIE situation elements we glean from subsequent and 
modern linguistic processes and no doubt we are entitled to 
this. But clearly we are simply imposing our own (often 
theoretical) concepts. We simply do not know how language 
started and how it developed in these prehistoric times. Let 
me use an analogy: When standing on the North Pole, we can 
only move southward. Once we have taken a few steps, we 
can move in any direction we like, even northward. But 
these are subsequent possibilities. I would not accept 
modern claims for such remote events as the PIE. Unless 
solid evidence is provided, these claims shall remain 
nebulous assumptions. 

What then is the origin of the Sanskrit complex 
morphology (and of course PIE which must have been even 
more composite, subtle, elastic and expressive)? I don’t 
know. Frankly, I don’t think anybody knows for certain. 
Obviously, suffixes and infixes like nu/no, ya etc had a 
function other than merely marking the morphological class 
(afterall, why have these classes?) but this is no longer 
known. There are many conjectures, many hypotheses, 
many theories. These are obviously connected to rather 
superficial views about man’s origin based on (neo-) 
Darwinian theories of evolution, which lack any solid proof 
(and, indeed, are seriously doubted by biologists and 
geneticists like Behe 1996, 2004, Brooks 2001, Denton 1985, 
Lipton 2005, Paquette et al 2003, etc). 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 265 

18 . There are many theories regarding Language, dialects, 
linguistic development, changes in sound or morphology and 
so on. Grammarians of the 19th century like A. Schleicher or 
his opponent H. Schuchardt, influenced no doubt by Darwin’s 
Theory of Evolution, thought that languages are natural 
organisms that are born, grow up and develop according to 
constant laws then grow old and die. Although this is untrue, 
many writers even nowadays seem to think that languages 
change because of the operation of unseen natural or 
metaphysical laws: e.g. “The only constancy of language is 
that it is always changing ... We may expect that the amount of 
change will be partly dependent on the extent of time that has 
elapsed in the linguistic continuum ... linguistic differentiation 
is a product of time” (Mallory 1989; 22, 23, 152). Some write 
(or speak) plainly of an evolutionary process connecting with 
(Neo-) Darwinism (like Ritt’s 2004 Selfish Sounds ...A 
Darwinian Approach to Language-, also Croft 2000). 
Fortunately others approach the issue with more pragmatism, 
like W. Labou: “it appears that the process of sound change is 
not an autonomous movement within the confines of a 
linguistic system, but rather a complex response to many 
aspects of human behaviour” (1984:163). 

It should be clear that a language is organic in that it has 
interconnected organs but it is not a biological organism like 
a plant or an animal and has nothing to do with natural 
evolution. It is not born, it does not grow old and does not 
die. All the so called ‘dead’ languages are languages that are 
simply no longer used: that is all. Language is primarily a 
mental and emotional phenomenon expressed in gross 
sounds (and writing) as is done here now. All linguistic 
change, morphological, phonetic, semantic or whatever 
(wrongly termed “evolution”) results from human action (as 
said in §1) which consists in deliberate interventions or in 
mere side-effects. Sometimes it is the action of a great 
grammarian like Panlni or other wise sages in ancient India or 
ancient Egypt, Palestine, etc; sometimes it is that of a great 
poet like Chaucer in England or Dante in Italy; sometimes in 


266 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

modern periods that of a government. The plain fact is that 
nobody has ever seen or heard of the origin of any language: 
we have all been born within a current linguistic context and 
however back we go in documented human history language 
is always there in one form or another. Its origin is really 
unknown: we have only ancient writings of Revelation (in the 
East and in the West) that ascribe its origin to God. 

The Vedic sages who left us much wisdom commented on 
the language also. One hymn assigned to Aucathya 
Dirghatamas in the Rgveda, probably the oldest document of 
humanity, says: catvari vak parimita padani, tani vidur 
bhahmana ye manismah ; guha tnni nihita nengayanti, 
turiyam vaco manusya vadanti (1.164.45) - ‘Speech is 
measured out in four quarters; perspicacious Brahmins (=holy 
men) know these: three placed within, secret, do not cause 
movement; the fourth one men speak’. Much else was said, 
analysed and categorised, in the course of time. 
A philosopher-linguist, Bhartrhari of c 300 CE, explicated in 
his Vakyapadlya the four quarters as para ‘Supreme Source, 
indescribable’, pasyanti ‘looking on (emotional wordless 
knowledge)’, madhyama ‘subtle (thinking in mind)’ and 
vaikhari ‘gross ordinary speech’. It would seem that only if 
one reached the level of para one would know all about 
language; even with pasyanti one would understand far more. 
But such study would require yogic, philosophical, 
metaphysical or esoteric practices that very few scholars wish 
to undertake. 

My own view, if I must express one, is that language did 
not start with grunts, hisses and warbles as most think (e.g. 
Hawkins & Gell-Man 1992) but, as Dixon writes, with “an 
explosion”. He finds no evidence of a “primitive language” 
with just a few hundreds words and only a little grammar 
(1997: 65); a similar view has been enunciated by D. 
Bickerton (1990) and N. Chomsky (1986). The presence of 
dhatus in Sanskrit and the simple mechanisms of their varied 
development into nominal declensions and verbal 


LANGUAGE, THE CYCLICITY THEORY AND THE SANSKRIT DHATUS / 267 

conjugations indicate that there was design at the very start 
with dhatus and terminations. I would go a little further than 
Dixon and say that language arose in primitive man’s mind in 
its fullest and most complex morphology just as Athena 
sprang out of Zeus’ temple in full panoply. And this would be 
the levels of para and pasyanti, mentioned above. This need 
not seem far-fetched. Most animals show a capacity to fashion 
a nest/lair, to care for their young teaching them to hunt on 
land, in water and in air and to communicate to some degree. 
Such behaviour betokens some intelligence. Many plants also 
exhibit signs of intelligence. Considering the vastly greater 
intelligence of humans, we should not be too surprised at the 
sudden outburst of a rich, fully inflected language. This of 
course cannot be proven except one reaches back to that 
original state and sees how it all started. 


7. Archaic Greece and the Veda 


I) Introduction 

Many studies by classicists (=scholars of Greek) have 
since the 1960s (and some before) drawn attention to 
affinities between the archaic Greek culture and Near 
Eastern (NE hereafter ) ones in religion, mythology, poetry 
and arts and crafts: e.g. P. Walcot (1966), M L West (1966, 
1978, 1988, 1997a, 1997b etc.), W. Burkert 1 (1977, 1987, 
1992 etc.), C. Penglase (1994), orientalist S. Dailey (1998) 
and many others. Except West, who invariably refers to early 
Indie sources as well, most of the others seem to be unaware 
of any affinities between the Greek and Indie cultures and 
play down the fact that the Greeks who came in waves onto 
the shores of the Aegean (from about the middle of the third 
millennium down to about 1200 BC) were undoubtedly 
people who spoke an Indo-European (IE hereafter) 
language and therefore most probably brought with them a 


1 For economy of space are used abbreviations for some texts and 
books given in the Bibliography in full. Thus B with number stands for 
Burkert 1992 and page-number throughout; MM for Dailey 1991; GM for 
Graves I960. AV is Atharvaveda and RVRgveda-, AB and SB are Aitareya 
and Satapatha Brahmanas; B Up and ChUp are Brhadaranyaka and 
Chandogya Upanishads; TS is Taittiriya Samhita ; MB is Mahdbharata 
and Ra Ramayana. 

Apart from the usual signs < 'derived from ’ and > ‘producing’ for 
convenience I use the sign z in the sense ‘is cognate, connected with’. 

Greek texts in the original and in translation have appeared in many 
editions, as with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. For Hesiod and the Homeric 
Hymns see Loeb in Bibliography. 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 269 


large amount of inherited forms pertaining to all aspects of 
life. A fair proportion of these forms (only few names of 
deities in the Mycenaean extant documents) appear in the 
archaic texts (Homer and Hesiod) and survive as established 
elements in the Greek civilisation of later periods. The 
above-mentioned classicists are certainly right in 
establishing Greek parallels with, and borrowings from, the 
NE traditions, but they are just as certainly wrong to ignore 
the Greek affinities with the Vedic culture and with that of 
other IE peoples, and ascribe - as they do - such elements 
also to NE influences. No doubt many elements in the Greek 
culture 2 derive from, or at any rate were common with, those 
of the Near East. Contacts between Minoan Crete and Syria 
and Egypt or other NE countries are in clear evidence from 
about the late 3rd millennium (Hood 2000) and exchanges of 
goods, patterns and techniques early in the second (Warren 
2000: 26-8); there may have been religious influences from 
Egypt c 1990 (Carinci 2000: 32-4) and certainly soon after 
the Egyptian hippopotamus-goddess Taweret was adopted 
in Crete with minor transformations in the extant 
iconography (Weingarten 2000: 114-5, 118); undoubtedly 
there are similarities in cult much earlier between Minoans 
and Anatolians (Catal Huytik) due to contacts, exchanges, 
perhaps even migrations from Anatolia (Dietrich 1974: 
chapters 1, 2). Such contacts, exchanges and transmissions 
continued in the Mycenaean and subsequent periods so that 
S. Dailey can say “There was not simply one ‘orientalising’ 
period, there were several” (1998: 86) 3 . However, Dailey is 


2 This will hereafter indicate the archaic period, that is 8th and 7th 
centuries, otherwise the era will be specified as post-archaic, classical or 
Hellenistic. The dates given are of course BC. 

3 The term ‘orientalising’ is something of a misnomer. It does not really 
mean that Greek culture acquired ‘oriental’ features (except in Hellenistic 
times, i.e. after 300). Greeks borrowed much material from the Near East 
but in almost all instances transformed this into distinctly Greek forms. As 
Plato® wrote in Epinomis 987 D-E, “The Greeks render more beautiful 
whatever they obtain from foreigners”. 



270 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

quite probably wrong in suggesting that the art of bird- 
augury (as attested in a Greek inscription of the 6th century) 
derives from Mesopotamia (1998: 100) - the two texts 
quoted from Greece and Mesopotamia being quite different, 
anyway 4 . This kind of divination is amply attested in the very 
earliest Vedic culture and west of Greece, among the Celts 
(MacCulloch 1948: 55-6). Now, while it is possible that this 
art of divination spread from Mesopotamia westward to 
Greece and Gaul, it is equally possible that the Celts, Greeks 
and Indo-Aryans inherited this practice from the Proto-Indo- 
European (PIE hereafter) phase. 

In this paper I trace parallels between the Greek culture 
and the Vedic tradition, referring to other IE peoples and 
using philological considerations wherever possible. 
Wherever we find Greek-Vedic parallels, these are very 
probably inherited forms, since it is unlikely that Greeks and 
IndoAryans had, after the dispersal of the IE peoples in the 
3rd or 4th millennium or before, contacts of any great 
significance. The area of Mythology has been extensively 
explored since the 19th century of our Era by Max Muller, 
Cox, Fisko, Oldenberg, Hillebrandt, et al (for a useful brief 
summary see Arora 1981: 177 and n 1) and of course by 
many more scholars in the 20th century (Dumezil, Polome, 
Puhvel, et al). I do not think that the exploration of 
Comparative Mythology has been exhausted, nor that a full 
and correct evaluation of the relationship between the 
different IE traditions has been established despite the 
various tripartite, structuralist and other approaches to this 
subject - and I hope to show the reason for this in the course 
of this discussion. I shall not examine mythological themes 
and motifs like the Deluge or the Four Ages (in India) or Five 
(in Greece), nor cognations like Zeus/Dyaus, Ouranos/ 

4 The Greek text: “If (a particular bird) flying from right to left disappears 
from view, (the omen is) favourable ... If, flying from left to right, it 
disappears in a straight course, unfavourable.” The Mesopotamian text: 
“If many eagles keep flying over a city, the city will be besieged”. 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 271 


Varuna etc., that have been repeatedly discussed. However, 
in addition to circumstantial mythological motifs, I shall 
examine parallels in social practices, rituals and magic, in the 
broadest sense of the term. 5 For instance, Cheiron’s school 
on mount Pelion where many heroes like Achilles received 
their education sounds very much like an old Druidic or 
Vedic school (today known as ‘ashram’ < x asrama) where 
the tradition was oral; very different were the NE traditions 
of education and learning where writing was predominant 
and the teaching, apart from the master-apprentice 
relationship in Egypt (Aldred 1984: 192-5) and elsewhere, 
was conducted in schools that were royal establishments or 
connected to temples (Saggs 1989: 100, 105). 

5 Indie sources used here will be mainly the hymns of the Rgveda and 
Atbaivaveda and to a lesser extent the Brahmanas, Upanishads and the 
Nirukta; on few occasions I have recourse to the Sutras and the epics, 
Mahdbharata and Ramayana (MB and Ra hereafter). 

The mainstream academic opinion on the dates of ancient Indian texts is 
that after the Aryans entered Northwestern India c 1500, they composed 
the RV c 1200-1000 (or even later), the AV c 1000, the Brahmanas and 
Upanishads c 800-600, the Sutras 600 BC and after and the epics (in their 
present form) right down to c 300 CE. In the last decade of the 20th century 
some Sankritists in the West have raised questions and objections to the 
mainstream view. Prof Aklujkar (British Columbia, Canada) does not 
consider the dates incontestable and states “only relative chronology has 
been well argued for” (1996: 66 and n 14); see also Feuerstein et al 1995, 
passim. Having accepted and taught the mainstream theory for some 20 
years, I too abandoned it in view of the mounting evidence against it. 
I presented the full evidence in The Rgveda and Indo-Europeans’ (1999) 
and in other publications (2009, 2003, 2002), positing 3100 BC as the 
completion of the RV. Only a brief summary can be given here. 

The Indo-Aryans are indigenous to the Seven-river region in what is 
today North Pakistan and N-West India, since there is no evidence 
whatever for any intrusion into the area prior to c 600 BC. (Allchins 1997: 
191, 222; Shaffer and Lichtenstein 1995: 135). The RV was complete but for 
minor passages by 3100 when the Harappan culture begins to arise. The 
Brahmanas and Sutras know of town-life, large buildings, fixed altars, 
bricks, cotton, rice and silver - elements present in the Harappan culture 
but unknown in the RV. Moreover, many hymns in the RV (especially II, 41; 
VI, 6l; VII, 95) praise the Sarasvatl river which flows mightily from the 



272 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


II) Oral tradition (and literacy). 

In my view the most important feature shared by the 
Indo-Aryans and the Greeks, i.e. the Mycenaeans and 
subsequent IE-speaking entrants, is the oral tradition. The 
Minoan civilisation (non-IE) was literate but its few written 
documents have not been deciphered as yet. Literacy was 
present also in the Mycenaean period, though limited to 
palaces and temples, and the language was IE, as revealed 
by the decipherment of Linear B (Ventris & Chadwick 1973). 
There followed 300 years of non-literacy after the 


mountains to the Indian ocean, but c 2000 had become a minor stream lost 
in the desert, hundreds of miles before reaching the ocean. In addition, 
linguistic and literary evidence shows that Vedic is far older than any other 
IE branch, including Hittite or Avestan. 

Consequently I take it that RV was composed in the 4th millennium at 
least, the Brahmanas and Upanishads early in the 3rd and some of the Sutra 
texts c 2500 BC. The Rama legend is older than the great war of the 
Mahabharata. The core of both must have been in circulation in epic 
narrative in the 3rd millennium (Rama tales much earlier) but was 
expanded by the bards with much additional material reaching the 
subsequent enormous length early in the Christian Era. 

Of great significance are two articles by American historian of science A. 
Seidenberg wherein he argues that Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek 
Mathematics derive from the Indie Sulbasutras of Apastamba and 
Baudhayana, or a work like that, dated at c 2000 BC as lower limit, thus 
furnishing totally independent evidence: in these he took account of the 
work of Neugebauer, Cantor et al (see Bibliography). Seidenberg wrote of 
this original work: “its mathematics was very much like what we see in the 
Sulvasutras [ sulbasutras ]. In the first place, it was associated with ritual. 
Second, there was no dichotomy between number and magnitude ... 
In geometry it knew the Theorem of Pythagoras and how to convert a 
rectangle into a square. It knew the isosceles trapezoid and how to 
compute its area ... [and] some number theory centered on the existence of 
Pythagorean triplets ... [and how] to compute a square root. ... The 
arithmetical tendencies here encountered [i.e. in the Sulbasutras ] were 
expanded and in connection with observations on the rectangle led to 
Babylonian mathematics. A contrary tendency, namely, a concern for 
exactness of thought... together with a recognition that arithmetic methods 
are not exact, led to Pythagorean mathematics. (1978: 329) 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 273 

destruction of the Mycenaean centres of culture from the 
12th to the early 8th century (Taylour 1983: 41), usually 
termed 'Dark Age' and then literacy re-emerged with the 
adoption by the Greeks of the Phoenician alphabet and its 
transformation with the introduction of written symbols for 
vowels and separate symbols for consonants. But it is 
doubtful whether the Proto-Greeks who first established 
themselves on the shores of the Aegean c 1900 were literate. 
The later writing is syllabic, resembling other NE types. It is 
safe to assume that they brought no writing with them and 
eventually, in the 16th or 15th century, adopted the Cypriot- 
Minoan mode of writing. 

It is very difficult to know exactly what the Proto-Greeks 
brought with them from the PIE stock. The clay tablets 
discovered at Knossos and other spots on Crete and at Pylos, 
Mycenae and other places on the mainland (=Mycenaean 
Documents) are mainly inventories, containing no literature 
and very little information about religion. However, among 
sporadic references to votive offerings, some names of 
deities stand out, easily recognizable as IE. Thus we find 
Zeus (V dyaus, Ht D Siu-s, Rm Ju[s]-piter , Gm Tiwaz)\ 
Areimene (V Aryaman, Clt Ariomanus in Gaul and Eremon 
in Ireland); Iqej-a/-o, names for a Horse-god/-goddess 
(Dietrich 1974: 176, n 246: Chadwick 1976: 93) connected 
obviously with V Asvin and Clt Epona, a horse-deity in Gaul; 
Erinus is obviously connected with Demeter Erinys of 
Arcadia, rather than the dreadful Furies (Burkert 1977: 85), 
and with V Saranyu 6 ; a goddess Diwija S divija ‘skyborn’ or 
S divya ‘celestial’; Burkert gives also Alle Gotter ‘All gods’ 
(1977: 83) which is Men pa-si te-oi (Ventris & Chadwick, 


6 The saranyu/ennus cognation is rejected by KEWA III, 442 (as also in 
Frisk 1954 ff). However, since KEWA accepts the S/Gk cognations - sama/ 
a mo-then, sarva/h olo-/ho ulo-, sarpami/heipo si-sarmi/hallomai and 
iallo and sarpis /e Ipos-elphos (all in vol III), there can be no reason, 
phonetic or semantic, for the rejection of saranyu/erinus ; non-initial S 
-a- often appears as -i- in Gk as in dadami/didomi. 



274 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

p 310) and clearly V visve-devah- ‘all gods’. Thus we have 
some evidence that the Mycenaeans preserved elements of 
their IE heritage and this through oral tradition. This tradition 
continued during the subsequent centuries of non-literacy; 
for, apart from Zeus and Erinys, the names of Hera and 
Athena, and several other deities re-emerged in the poetry 
of Homer and Hesiod in the late 8th century. (For continuity 
and innovation in archaic Greek religion see Dietrich 1974: 
246ff and Burkert 1977: 99ff.) 

In the 12th century, it is thought, the Dorian tribes, 
another IE-speaking people, swept through northern 
Greece, spread and eventually some of them reached and 
settled in the Peloponnese (Taylour 1983: 1 6 , 162). No 
writing is attested anywhere in Greece until c 800 and, when 
written records appeared in the 8th century, only few of the 
older Mycenaean cultural elements survived in the 
beginnings of what is regarded as the Greek civilisation, 
culminating in the brilliance of the classical period. 

It may be thought that with the advent of writing the oral 
tradition ceased, but this is not so. Many examples are 
attested down to classical times pertaining to ‘esoteric’ 
knowledge, through the teacher-disciple and father-son 
relationship, in religion and priestly functions, healing, 
divination, and the like (B 43ff). At the time of Euripides, 
when literacy was widespread (Murray 1993: 100), one of 
the characters in Melanippe the Wise says “How sky and 
earth separated is not my tale but one from my mother” (frag 
484_ 7 ) thus showing that cosmogonical or theogonic 
accounts still passed from one generation to the next by 
word of mouth. P. Kingsley again stresses how oral 
transmission in esoteric cults like the Crphics, Pythagoreans 
and others persisted into Hellenistic and even Roman times 
(1995: 322ff). 


7 For fragmentary works of Euripides see T B L Webster’s The Tragedies 
of Euripides, London 1967. 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 275 


Now while classicists like Burkert link this oral 
transmission with diviners, healers and the like in NE 
cultures (B,l 44-5), this is a pre-eminent feature of early IE 
as well. It is attested among the Celts, as Caesar writes in 
De Bello Galileo VI, 13: “[The Druids] are concerned with 
divine worship ... sacrifices ... ritual ... Numerous young men 
gather round them for the sake of instruction holding them in 
great honour”; in ch VI, 14 he adds, “In the schools of the 
Druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and 
therefore some persons remain twenty years under training. 
And they do not think it proper to commit these utterances to 
writing, although in almost all other matters ... they make use 
of Greek letters”. The Germanic and Baltic peoples also 
must have had an oral tradition, even though it is not so 
clearly attested, or so retentive, otherwise they would not 
have preserved respectively the deities Fjorgyn and 
Perkunas, which z SI Perun (and variants) and V Parjanya; 
much of the IE common lexical stock; and IE legends, like 
Thor’s confrontation with the serpent Midgard in the ocean 
(Gm) and the songs about Dieva Deli (Ltv; or Dievo Sunelai 
Lith) ‘the [Sky-] god’s sons’ and the Sun’s daughter ( Saules 
meita Ltv or Saules dukterys Lith) this Baltic legend 
corresponding in part to the Greek Dioskouroi ‘sons of Zeus’ 
and Vedic Asvinau who accompany Surya ‘Sungod’s 
daughter’ (or Usas~). It should be noted here that there is no 
direct parallel between the Greek and Baltic legends beyond 
‘skygod’s lads’. The Greek legend has two pairs of twins, 
Castor (one Dioskouros) and Klytaemnestra (Agamemnon’s 
wife), and Polydeukes (second Dioskouros) and beautiful 
Helen (of Troy, i.e. Menelaos’ wife) while the two 
Dioskouroi are expert horsemen and rescue people from 
shipwrecks (“Hymn to Dioskouroi’ in Loeb, 460-2; GM I, 
245-50); the Baltic legend has sometimes one, sometimes 
two or many, Skygod’s sons who woo the Sun’s daughter and 
save her from drowning (Ward, 414-5; Puhvel 228-9). The 
link between Greek and Baltic is furnished by the Vedic lore 


276 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

about the Asvin horsemen (one set of twins of Saranyu and 
Vivasvat in RVX, 17, 1-2 & Nirukta XII, 10) who are healers 
and rescuers (often from shipwreck) and thus are connected 
with Dioskouroi, and who accompany the Sungod’s daughter 
Surya (and in RVW, 60, 2, rescue abducted Usas, who is 
sometimes identified with Surya), and thus are connected 
with the Baltic heroes. Although, the Slavs and the Romans 
had no myth of the Divine Twins, they must have had a 
similar mode of oral transmission. 

In the Vedic culture the oral tradition is very marked. The 
Vedic texts preserved much more of the PIE stock of 
legendry than any other IE branch. In fact no major 
mythological feature appears in two or more IE branches to 
the exclusion of the Vedic one, while, on the contrary, 
feature after feature appears in the Vedic lore in common 
with one or two other branches to the exclusion of the rest 
(disregarding the affinities of Vedic and Avestan since these 
two traditions formed a distinct branch). Thus the motif of the 
sacrificial dismemberment of primordial Man Purusa and the 
resultant cosmogony {RVX, 10) has a parallel in the 
dismemberment of giant Ymir (z V yama) in the Norse 
tradition but nowhere else; the name of Vedic Firegod Agni 
appears only as the Slavic Ogon (and variants) and nowhere 
else; the name of V artificers Rbhu is most probably cognate 
with Gk Orpheus and Gm Elf but has no mythological 
connection in the other branches; the same holds for 
V Vastos-pati and Gk Hestia and Rm Vesta-, and so on. Thus 
the Vedic corpus seems to be a much more reliable source 
for PIE mythology than any other IE branch. This is all the 
more remarkable when one considers that the Vedic texts 
were transmitted for many centuries through a well 
organised oral tradition. 

The systematic oral transmission of its voluminous sacred 
lore (and sacrificial ritual) is a most impressive characteristic 
of the Vedic tradition. The priestly caste of the brahmins 
guarded well the knowledge of their sruti (apocalyptic 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 277 


scriptures like the Rgvedd). It was the sacred duty of certain 
families to transmit this knowledge from one generation to 
the next (Winternitz 1981: vol I, 29-32, 51-2). When the 
disciples reached maturity and the teacher felt they could 
now proceed on their own he instructed them “learn and 
teach” iCh Up 1 IV, 9, 3 & VI, 14, 2; T Up I, 9, Iff). The 
teacher-disciple and inter-family father-son relationship is 
exemplified in the Upanishads: “A father may declare this 
[teaching about] Brahman to the eldest son or to a worthy 
pupil” iCh Up III, 11, 5); later on (VI, 8ff) Uddalaka is 
presented instructing his son Svetaketu. Already, in the RV 
itself we read of the families of Bhrgus, Angirases, Vasisthas 
et al, who preserved and transmitted the sacred knowledge. 

Ill) Epic Poetry 

1. “Greek literature is a Near Eastern literature” wrote 
West in the introduction of his edition of Hesiod’s Theogony 
(1997: 31). The statement is probably exaggerated for effect, 
but other scholars express a similar view in more moderate 
terms (B 88ff; Dailey 1998: 101-3). Undoubtedly, many 
incidents and features from NE poetry are embedded in the 
Homeric epics (and other poems of the archaic period). 
Here, I present only a few of them to indicate this particular 
debt: in Iliad 15, 187ff Poseidon describes how the world 
was divided among the three sons of Rhea, the three high 
gods, Zeus, Hades and Podeidon himself, by lots, a 
procedure otherwise unknown in the Greek texts but 
present early on in the Babylonian epic Atrahasis (MM p9); 
Penelope’s prayer after her son Telemachus’ departure in 
Odyssey 4, 759ff, could well derive from a similar incident in 
the Mesopotamian epic Gilgamesh (Tablet III: MM p 65), 
where the hero’s mother Ninsun offers a prayer after her 
son’s departure; also in Gilgamesh we find that sometimes 
the action of a new day begins with the first light of dawn 
(Tablet VIII, MM pp 91, 95) and this is employed by Homer 
in the Odyssey (opening of rhapsodies 2, 5 etc.); there are 



278 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

several more cases. However, apart from very few 
incidents, like Penelope’s prayer which seems to have 
something non-Greek about it (B 1992: 99-100), it should be 
and has been noted that most such borrowings (like also the 
Phoenician alphabet mentioned above) are usually 
transformed by the Greeks into terms of their own culture 
(see n 3, above). 

Despite all such borrowings, Greek epic poetry has its 
roots in the PIE tradition as is evidenced by some basic 
features it has in common with the poetry of the Rgveda, 
even though the latter is not an epic. It is difficult to 
understand what scholars mean when they write of “Indo- 
European heroic tradition”, since apart from Homer’s works 
there are no other IE epics until very much later. The Hittites 
(also IE) left us some epics, which were written down eight 
or nine centuries before Homer’s poems but are almost 
indistinguishable from NE poetry. The Romans produced 
poetry several centuries after the Greeks and mostly imitated 
them. For the other IE branches, Germanic, Celtic, Slavonic 
and Baltic, we find no written material until after many 
centuries of the Common Era. Consequently the only 
comparisons that can be made in this context are with the RV 
hymns. We therefore ignore studies on (hypothetical) IE 
epics or “IE poetics”. Besides, features common to, say, 
Greek and Germanic heroic poetry are found also in the 
medieval Turkic Alpamysh or the ancient NE Gilgamesh. 

2. In the Homeric epic we find, broadly speaking, three 
types of stock epithet (the examples are mostly from Iliad 1): 
a) Vague adjectives like dios ‘divine, bright’, used of anyone, 
or diogenes ‘nobly born’ of many heroes; these are 
employed mainly for filling the metrical line. Others are 
amumon ‘fault-less’, megathumos ‘big-hearted’ and 
hippodamos ‘horse-taming’ - all used indiscriminately of 
Trojans and Achaeans; potnia ‘reverend’ used of Hera and 
elder women and kallisphuros ‘with beautiful ankles’ of any 
beautiful lady; and so on. b) The second type of epithet is 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 279 


used specifically of a central figure and denotes a distinct 
feature but could apply to many others: e.g. Hera ‘of white 
hands’ leukolenos-, Athena ‘of grey/blue eyes’ glaukopis-, 
Dawn ‘of rosy-fingers’ rhododaktulos-, Acheans ‘of fine 
greeves’ euknemis-, etc. c) The third type is used exclusively 
of a particular deity or warrior and denotes a feature that 
designates a specific attribute or function not found in 
another figure: e.g. hekebolos ‘aim-attainer/far-shooting’ is 
exclusive to Apollo; asteropetes ‘who throws the bolt’ and 
nephelegereta ‘cloud-gatherer’ are exclusive to Zeus; 
polumetis ‘of many counsels’ and polumechanos ‘of many 
devices’ are used of Odysseus; the epithet podas okus ‘fleet 
of foot’ is used mainly of Achilles; though oku- and tachu- 
are used of others too. 

All three categories are found in the Rgveda - even 
though it is a collection of hymns to gods and not an epic: a) 
daivya ‘bright, divine’ of Savitr (I, 35, 5) and Rudra (II, 33, 7); 
ugra ‘mighty, fierce’ of Rudra (II, 33, 9) and of a man of 
power (X, 34, 8); rtavan ‘holy, observing order’ of Divine 
Waters (II, 35, 8) and of Mitra and Varuna (VII, 6 1, 2); 
citrasravas ‘of brilliant fame’ of the Firegod Agni (I, 1, 5) and 
of Mitra (III, 59, 4). b) somapa ‘soma-drinker’ is exclusive to 
Indra (e.g. II, 12, 13), but it could be used of any other god; 
Rudra is called jaldsa ‘cooling’, but so could be the Moongod 
Soma, the Raingod Parjanya and others; Agni alone is 
described as jdtavedas ‘who knows all things manifest’ but 
so could be Varuna or the Sungod who see all things, c) Agni 
is grhapati ‘lord of the house’ (I, 45, 1) since a fire is always 
lit, and daivya hotr ‘heavenly priest’ (III, 7, 8 and 9); vajrin 
‘he of the bolt’ (VII, 49, 1) is an epithet exclusive to Indra; 
Visnu is famous as urugaya ‘far-going’ and urukrama 
‘wide-striding’ (I, 154, 3, 5, 6); and so on. That Greek epic 
had a rich inheritance of epithets is made even clearer by its 
common lexical stock with Vedic : S sravas/sruta z Gk kleos/ 
kluto- ‘fame(-d)’; S uru- z Gk euru- ‘wide-’; S asu z Gk oku- 
‘ swift’; S divya/daivya z Gk dios ‘divine, celestial, bright’; 


280 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

S patni Gk potnia ‘reverend lady’. (For additional “verbal as 
well as conceptual parallels,” West, 1988: 154-6. also Kirk 
ed, The Iliad, a Commentary 1985-93, vol 3, p 117, on 
‘glory’ and ‘undying.’; also Kazanas herein ch. 3) 

3- The similes in the N/E epics are not numerous but 
varied as in “His face was like that of a long-distance 
traveller’’ ( Gilgamesh, MM 53) or “To go on to the battlefield 
is as good as a festival for young men” ( Erra and Ishum, MM 
287) and “splendour like the stars of heaven” (ibid, 290). The 
RV contains a large variety of similes: simple ones as in 
“[Rudra] kills like a terrifying beast” (II, 33, 11); a humorous 
comparison in “[Frogs] like brahmins at the overnight 
Soma-sacrifice, speaking around as it were a full lake” (VII, 
103, 7); lyrical and elegiac in “As a mother covers her son 
with a robe, so shroud thou, o Earth, this [dead] man” (X, 18, 
11); elliptic and pregnant in “As a cunning gambler carries 
off the stakes, so the goddess [Dawn] wears away a mortal’s 
lifespan” (I, 92, 10); and one almost Homeric - “Like the rays 
of the sun that make men hasten, exhilarate, then send to 
sleep, so flow forth together [Soma’s] swift effusions ...” (IX, 
69, 6). The Greeks may have retained similes (and idioms) 
from the PIE phase but even if parallels could be established 
between Greek and Vedic (or Avestan) these could equally 
well be due to independent development, since the 
movements during the centuries after the dispersal and the 
settlement in new environments would naturally produce 
new usages. So in this area, what is of importance is the 
continued use of similes, not so much verbal and conceptual 
parallels which may be fortuitous. 

4. An additional aspect of style is that the R V Hymns are 
composed in various fairly strict metres (Anustubh, Jagati, 
Tristtubh, etc.), as the Greek epic line has its own strict metre 
(the hexameter with its iambic, trochaic, dactylic and other 
variants), whereas the Mesopotamian epic has only one 
metrical feature, that of the accent usually resting on the 
penultimate syllable of the line (Heidel 1965: 15-6). 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 281 


Moreover, we find in the Hymns alliteration and assonance: 
... prasasre apsu; sa piyusam- dhayati purvasunam ‘he has 
stretched forth in the water; he sucks the new milk of them 
that first have given birth’ (II, 35, 5); tvdm ague 
vajasatamam vipra vardhanti sustutam ‘Wise singers exalt 
you, Agni, well-praised, best giver of gain!’ (V, 13, 5); 
sa dundudhe sajur rndrena devair durad daviyo dpa sedha 
satrkun O drum, along with Indra and the gods, do drive our 
foes to farthest distance’ (VI, 47, 29). Thus it is as though the 
metrical line foreshadows Greek poetry and the alliteration 
foreshadows the alliterative poetry of the Germanic 
peoples. The riddle is another feature common to the Hymns 
and Germanic poetry: e.g. tigmdm eko bibharti hasta 
ayudham, sucir ugro jalasabhesajah// ... triny-eka umgdyo 
vi cakrame ydtra deva so madanti // (RVVlll, 29, 5 and 7): 
‘One, bright, fierce, with cooling remedies, carries in his 
hand a sharp weapon’ (5) where the “cooling remedies” 
signal Rudra; ‘One far-going, has made three strides to 
where the gods rejoice’ (7) where “far-going” and “three 
strides” signal Visnu. 

Many more details of form, style and specific poetic 
devices will be found in C. Watkins 

2001 (1995) passim., (also Kazanas herein ch.3) Watkins’ 
study is invaluable for any student of IE comparative 
literature, but, unfortunately it contains many parallels that 
are not parallels and many that are universal (or independent 
developments) and not specifically IE inherited forms (21-2, 
25, 31, 38, 53, 99, etc. etc.). It also takes for granted the 
notion common among comparativists that all traditions, Vedic, 
Hittite, Greek, Celtic, Slavic, etc. stand on the same footing, 
even though the Hittite one is heavily influenced by the NE 
cultures (this is admitted on p 52), while Celtic and, moreso, 
Slavic literary traditions, which are of late attestation, may well 
carry elements diffused from Greece and Rome - a point 
outside the framework of our present discussion. 
Nonetheless, Watkins does state: - “The language of India 


282 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

from its earliest documentation in the Rig-Veda has raised the 
art of the phonetic figure to what many would consider its 
highest form” (p 109). 

Note. Earlier, in section II, we saw that the legend of the 
Asvins in the RV provides information that connects the 
Greek Dioskouroi and Lithuanian Dievo Sunelai. Here we see 
that the RV can be said to anticipate both Greek poetic metre 
and Germanic alliterative poetry: it alone preserves what 
most probably were common original elements in the PIE but 
got separated in the other branches. 

5. There are in addition several incidents in Homer 
which have parallels in the Veda and can thus be regarded as 
PIE inherited forms, despite similarities in NE texts. We 
examine only three of them here. 

In Iliad 15, 34-42, Hera swears the oath to the river Styx, 
which is regarded as the most severe and weighty oath by 
the gods (as it is also in Hesiod’s Theogony 401®. In this 
instance it has cosmic dimensions being accompanied by 
Heaven and Earth, and Burkert links it with a parallel in 
Aramaic (1992: 93-4). However, this is also a distant relative 
of the oath to Varuna and cosmic waters as found in 
Atharvaveda XIX, 14, 8-9. As Keith observes, “Mitra is 
primarily the Lord of the contract ... [and] Varuna of the oath 
... as in the case of the Styx in Greek religion (1989: I, 103-4). 

Rhapsody 21 of the Iliad is concerned with Achilles’ 
fighting with various Trojans by the river Scamander, in it and 
with the river-deity itself. This too has been linked with river 
battles in NE texts (B 119) but the incident may well derive 
from, or be an inherited parallel to the battle scene in RVVll, 
19 (and 33, 3-6) where king Sudas was hemmed in at the 
river Purusni by the confederation of the 10 kings and won 
with the help of his hierophant, the great sage Vasistha, and 
the intervention of Indra (cf the intervention of Hera and 
Hephaestus in 11 328-77 in the Greek text). As usual the 
Hymns give no details but the slaughter and the gory corpses 
are suggested in brief touches. (Detailed descriptions of 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 283 


battles, chariots, corpses and flowing blood will be found in 
the Indian epics, especially the second day of the war in the 
Bhlsma Parvan, book VI of MB.) 

The third incident is the flight of Artemis and Apollo from 
the battlefield, one compelled by Poseidon, the other by 
Hera, while their mother Leto is driven off by Hermes (Iliad 
15, 435-503). This is reminiscent of RVW, 28, 2 and 30, 4, 
where Indra attacks the Dawn and the Sun crushes their 
chariot and causes them to flee. The echoes are faint, 
admittedly, but Apollo is also Phoibos which z (Avestan baya 
and) V bhaga who is clearly an aspect of the Sungod, while 
Artemis may be linked with Usas as I suggest further down, 
sect V,l. 8 

An additional feature in the Iliad is the mode whereby 
some heroes reflect on things, i.e. “they speak to their own 
‘great-hearted thumos’ or to their ‘heart’”. This too Burkert 
(B 116) connects with NE prototypes; but, of course, we find 
a similar formulation in the RV - speaking with one’s self/ 
spirit ( tanu : VII, 86, 2). 

There are several other incidents in Homer (and Hesiod) 
that can be linked with the Vedic texts but enough has been 
said on this. I am not suggesting that Greek archaic texts, or 
even the points discussed above, have not been influenced 


8 Dr Bhattacharji links Artemis with Durga, yet on the same page she 
links Athena with Durga (1988: 164). From the viewpoint that all deities are 
manifestations of the Absolute, this constant identification of different 
deities with different deities obviously does not matter. But when we 
compare and contrast so as to discover precise correspondences, such a 
method is not satisfactory. Many of Dr B’s references to other mythologies 
(especially Greek) are wrong: e.g. “Demeter the mother-goddess of the 
Minoans [sic!]: was called Demeter Erinyes [sic!]” (p 86); for the Arcadian 
Demeter Erinys, see section II, above. Throughout the book there is the 
underlying notion of the conflict between invading Aryans and Dravidian 
natives (pp 10, 45, 90, 160, 163, 178, etc). It is a pity corrections were not 
made for the 1988 edition (by which time Archaeology had made it clear 
that there had been no invading hordes). Otherwise it is an immensely 
useful study of the historical development of Vedic mythology. 



284 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

by NE traditions, but I am claiming that, whatever non-IE 
influences have affected these Greek narratives, they have 
many affinities with the Veda and that therefore their IE 
heritage cannot be denied. 

IV) Divination 

Divination was practised extensively in ancient India as 
is obvious in the Brahmanas. Not only the flight of birds but 
also the direction of cows’ movements in the Soma sacrifice 
served as omens for the sacrificer’s fortune (SB IV, 5, 8, 11); 
an omen was also taken to be the clarity or otherwise of the 
fire. The RV hymns II, 42 and 43 already mention birds of 
omen. In II, 42 the kapihjala (a kind of heath-cock) is begged 
to be auspicious (sumahgald)-. it is so, if it calls from the right 
or south (daksinata/p) of the house, from the region of the 
Ancestors - then no thief or evil-wisher will do harm. Here 
we have the bird’s call from the south or right, as in the 
Greek text mentioned in n4 it is the bird’s flight from right to 
left. VIII, 47, 15 regards as a bad omen a dream of making a 
garland or neckband. Many other phenomena serve as 
omens - one’s shadow appearing upside down in water or in 
a mirror; meteors and lightning; the scream of a jackal or the 
neighing of a horse; and so on. However, it must be 
emphasised that the inspection of entrails, including 
hepatoscopy (B, 46-53) is not evidenced even in late 
literature. 

Burkert mentions also divination and prophesying by 
ecstatic (or raging) women (B, 80ff). This phenomenon is not 
at all attested in the Rgveda. The Vedic Index gives two 
references for female magicians yatudhani, I, 191, 8 and X, 
118, 8, but in both the word means ‘female fiend, 
demonness’: in the first passage the sun is to destroy these 
fiends of night; in the second, Agni will burn them up. The 
same applies to its references to the Atharvaveda. (Of 
course, there may have been some women who practised 
some kind of witchcraft: see V, 2, below.) Women were 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 285 


present in rites and in philosophical gatherings, as shown by 
the intrepid Gargi who challenges the sage Yajnavalkya in 
BUp III, 8, Iff, and also revealed hymns in the RV, but, 
according to the texts, there were no seeresses (like Pythia 
or Sibylla in the West) nor priestesses. 

Both priestesses and haruspication are attested in the 
early Celtic culture. Citing Pomponius Mela, MacCulloch 
refers to 9 ‘priestesses’ antistites on an island off Brittany 
“who lived in perpetual virginity”, wielded power over sea 
and wind through spells, healed incurable illnesses, 
predicted the future to sailors and could assume animal forms 
(1948: 76). This account is clearly exaggerated fantasy but 
there is evidence of ‘druidesses’ bandrui or ban-filid 
(Kendrick 1994: 96-7). Tacitus writes that the Celts in Gaul 
consulted their deities through human entrails ( Annals XIV, 
30). Among the Nordic people, also, goddess Freyja had a 
divination rite performed by a seeress volva who fell into a 
trance or ecstasy (Davidson 1981: 117). The Balts too had 
priestesses (Puhvel 1989: 224-5). 

So the Greeks might have brought such practices with 
them to the shores of the Aegean. On the other hand, it is 
possible that this custom spread from the Near East westward 
and to the north. 

V) Magic and Purification 

The Greeks, like other peoples, believed in demons, 
ghouls and ghosts and that these could enter and possess the 
human organism causing mental and physical illness, even 
death; also that these could be manipulated by means of 
magical rites, to guard against them or direct them against 
enemies. A large aspect of the Greek religion consisted in 
securing protection against these demonic forces or in 
purification. 

1. Demons and spirits of the dead. In his well- 
documented study (1992), Burkert discusses extensively 
demons attacking and causing disease (pp 59, 65), guilt- 


286 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

spirits torturing murderers (56-7) and ghosts of the 
unappeased dead possessing men (pp 65-6). All these he 
links with Mesopotamian parallels, but they are all found also 
in great abundance in the Veda. 

Attacks of demons causing disease are well attested 
throughout the Vedic tradition. The Atharvaveda especially 
is full of such cases. Takman for instance, “god of yellow hue 
... son of Varuna” (AVI, 25, 2-3) causes much trouble being 
the demon of fever: he attacks in autumn and the rainy 
season (V, 22, 3) like burning fire (VI, 20, 1) and is invoked 
in a brief spell - one of many - to enter into a frog (VII, 116, 
2). There are raksasas, demons that assume various forms, 
like dog or ape (VI, 37, 11) or deformed human shapes (VII, 
6, 13), and pisacas, that assume insect forms and the like: 
they attack a man (or an animal), enter and cause bodily or 
mental disorder (IV, 37, 11; V, 29, 5-9) and may finally bring 
death; they also infest human dwellings and whole villages 
(IV, 36, 8; etc.). Such fiends are found in action in the /?Vtoo 
- I, 133, 5; VII, 104, 10; etc. 

The Mesopotamian or Vedic “carnivorous demons” do 
not, of course, cover exactly the case of the Erinyes who 
pursue Orestes “as beasts of prey, ‘dogs’ who want to suck 
his blood” (B, 59). The Veda, however, provides such canine 
figures. First there are Rudra’s dogs that howl and swallow 
unchewed their prey 04V XI, 2, 30). Then there is Sarama 
which pursues and finds the thieves of cattle and then Indra 
recovers the animals (i?VX, 108); Sarama is not expressly 
said to be a bitch in the i?Vbut is so taken by subsequent texts 
(Nirukta XI, 25). However, the Veda has two more dogs, 
those of Yama, the guardian of the dead in heaven (RVX, 14, 
10-12). Descendants of Sarama (with the epithet Sarameya) 
they are called Sabala (? z Gk Kerberos) ‘brindled’ and 
Syama ‘black’, and guard the path of the dead to Yama’s 
abode. “It is possible that they were conceived as going 
among men, and taking to the abode of death [in heaven] the 
souls of the dead” (Keith 1989: II, 406). Be it noted that some 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 287 


think Sarama z Hermes (so SGD, but KEWA III, 442-3 thinks 
it improbable). Sarama is Indra’s and the gods’ (in Nirukta XI, 
25) messenger, as Hermes is of Zeus; she finds the stolen 
cattle while Hermes does the stealing of cattle; her offspring 
Sarameya guide on the path of the dead, as later Hermes is 
psuchopompos, escort of the dead to Hades. Here Burkert 
sees only the influence of NE gods’ messengers (1977: 244) 
but obviously we have an IE element. 

The guilt of murder, which attaches to Achilles in 
Aithiopis and to Orestes (B, 56), is fully recognised in the 
Veda as well; even the slaying (by Indra) of a demon like 
Vrtra brings the taint of bloodshed. The killer becomes an 
outcast to be avoided, as is Orestes (B, 60), and is haunted by 
his deed ( Pancavimsa Brahmana XIX, 4, 10). The Sutra 
texts, which come somewhat later, have the murderer cariy 
the skull of his victim and wear the skin of an ass or dog, thus 
at once lessening his guilt by this declaration of his crime and 
warning others to stay away from the unclean person 
(.Apastamba Dharmasutra I, 9, 24, 11-13). 

Then there are the ghosts of unappeased dead causing 
“all manner of illnesses on the living” and here Burkert cites 
numerous cases from Greek texts (pp 65-6). Possession by 
ghosts is, of course, common in post-Vedic late texts but it is 
unknown as such in the early texts. However, some spirits of 
the dead, ghosts that are guilt-ridden souls perhaps 
undergoing some punishment, do wander among and pester 
the living (i?7X, 15, 2; AVXlll, 3, 9). In Vedic texts, 
possession itself is an action of demons and ghouls only, as 
we saw earlier in this section. 

2. Protection. Many and various means for protection 
against these demonic forces (and for purification) were 
used by the Greeks: spells, votive offerings,amulets of all 
kinds,even effigies, today’s “voodoodoll” (B, 60-1, 65-7, 82, 
87, 110). It should not come as a surprise that all such means, 
with some variants here and there, are amply presented in 
the Veda. The Athawaveda (and much of the Sutra literature) 


288 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

abounds in various protective, expulsive, offensive and 
retaliatory means: spells (V, 31, 1; etc; in 3a, below, the 
verses from RV are another such incantation); amulets of all 
kinds (I, 16, 3; etc, etc); use of plants (IV, 7; VIII, 7, 3; etc) 
and ointments of all kinds which are sometimes genuine 
medicinal remedies (IV, 9, 8; etc); carrying round of fire 
(VIII, 64, 1); and of course water for all occasions. Another 
feature in these practices is the making of effigies (out of 
wax and other substances) which are melted, buried or 
pierced through. These are made by women also and one 
description is in AVX, 1, 1-3, which also has incantations for 
protection; they are placed in wells or cemeteries (V, 31, 8). 
More details are found in the Sutra texts (Keith, II, 389). 

Burkert (pp 53-5) mentions two types of foundation 
deposits during the construction or consecration of a house, 
temple or other building, both in the Near East and Greece: 
one type consists of precious metals and/or stones, guardian 
figures and tablets with inscriptions; the other consists of 
animal sacrifice and libations. The first type, essentially an 
extension of the second, is unknown in the Vedic tradition. 
A beautiful Hymn (AKill, 12) describes the consecration of a 
house invoking gods Savitr ‘Sun’, Vayu ‘Wind’, Indra, 
Brbaspati ‘Lord of prayer, priest of gods’, the Maruts ‘gods 
of rain and medicine’ (also warrior comrades of Indra), and 
Bhaga ‘Bestower of fortune’. Offerings are made of milk, 
corn, jars of purified butter and curdled milk, honey and 
water. In later texts, the Sutra-literature, a black cow or a 
white goat may be offered and in this Keith finds a similarity 
to “the black cock killed at the foundation of a new house in 
Greece” (II, 363). 

3. Purification. Of all purificatory practices in archaic 
Greece, here we shall concentrate on the cathartic ritual 
which releases murderers from their blood guilt, although 
other cathartic practices are employed in circumstances of 
plague or other forms of pollution. 

a) The purification ritual whereby a murderer like 
Orestes gets cleansed consists in having the blood of a 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 289 


slaughtered piglet running down and over the culprit 
and then the blood being washed off with running water 
(B 56-7). This procedure is unknown in the Vedic tradition. 
Such a blood-bath is never used and the animals sacrificed in 
rituals are horse, ox, sheep and more usually goat (Keith, I, 
279 and n 5). Instead of blood, the Vedic people invariably 
used running water which removed all sin such as lying, 
cursing and any crime of violence: “O Waters ( apah ), carry 
off whatever sin is in me, whatever crime I have done, 
whatever curse or lie” (RV I, 23, 22, repeated in X, 9, 7). 

b) “Anything left over from the purification must be 
carefully disposed of’, writes Burkert, as much in Greece as 
in Mesopotamia (B, 62). The same is true in the Vedic 
tradition: all remnants of the rite must be burnt thoroughly 
and whatever is left must be buried secretly (SB III, 8, 5, 9ff); 
then all get washed and the last vestiges of uncleanness float 
away with the running water. 

c) Another Mesopotamian/Greek parallel for purification 
is the “young [man] holding ... a tamarisk, rod of purification” 
and “Branchos the Apollonian seer” frees the Milesians of 
the plague by sprinkling them “with laurel branches” while 
they “spoke the responses” (B, 6l). In the Veda we find the 
use of the plant Apamarga ‘which drives away’ (AV IV, 7; 
etc) as well as of other plants (A Will, 7, 3ff; etc) against 
diseases, evil dreams and the like. Water and incantations are 
used simultaneously. 

d) Of the other details mentioned by Burkert in relation 
to purification, of interest is Apollo and Karmanor, the priest 
who purified the god on Crete after he had slain the Delphic 
dragon (B, 63). 

Apollo’s adventure and slaying of Typhaon’s dragon- 
fostermother at Delphi ( Hymn to Apollo 349-86) is really a 
repeat of Zeus’ slaying of Earth’s dragon-offspring 
Typhoeus ( Theog 820-68). The name Apollon is of uncertain 
derivation but his epithet Phoibos sounds cognate with 
(Avestan baya and) S Bhaga ‘Bestower of fortune’, a Vedic 
deity that is clearly an aspect of the Sungod: the S/Gk 





290 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

correspondences bh/ph and g/b are quite normal. However it 
is Indra the Thunder-and-Storm-god, with a solar aspect also, 
who kills the demon-dragon Vrtra; Indra is also the ‘bolt- 
bearer’ vajrin and so related to Zeus; mention is also made of 
Vrtra’s dragon-mother (RV I, 32, 9). The Vedic and the two 
Greek myths are obviously one and the same in origin. 
Connected with this is the Teutonic myth of Thor, who 
wields the hammer Mjolnir and slays the serpent Midgard 
that encircles the world (as Vrtra encompasses - [asayana - 
the Waters), but is himself killed in the process ( Edda , 46-7 
and 54). 

The Apollo myth has the element of water with the 
presence of the stream Telphusa, as Midgard lives in the 
ocean and Vrtra covers and wallows in the Waters; thus it is 
closer to the Vedic tale than the Zeus mythologem. 
Moreover, Indra, like Apollo, feels guilt after slaying Vrtra 
and rushes off distraught (RV I, 32) - whereas Zeus has no 
blood-guilt. Indra’s guilt and expiation is mentioned in later 
texts and is developed with epic exuberance in the 
Mahabharata (V, 13 and XII, 272) where Indra gets purified 
with the performance of a horse-sacrifice. (For additional 
Apollo-Indra affinities see VI, 2, below.) 

Burkert feels that the name Karmanor “does not seem to 
be Greek” (B, 63). We are not told who officiated in Indra’s 
horse-sacrifice. Karmanor sounds like S [sramana 
‘a wandering ascetic’ or, more probably, like - Isarman 
‘refuge, delight’, which often forms the last element of a 
brahmin’s name (e.g. the common Visnu-sarmari) - the S/Gk 
correspondence [s/k being frequent, as in [srad-/ krad- and 
[sruta/kluto-. 

VI) Three deities. 

1. Artemis. Most of our information about Artemis comes 
from later sources. The archaic texts and iconography give 
little information. 

Earlier (in III, 5) I suggested this goddess may be 
connected with the Dawngoddess Usas after citing the 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 291 


incident where she and her brother flee from the battlefield. 
In the two Homeric Hymns to Artemis (Loeb 434-5 and 
452-3), Artemis has certain traits that cannot be directly 
related to Usas, e.g. hunting with hounds and “destroying the 
race of wild beasts”. Other features can be related to Usas, 
even Artemis’ chief aspect as Moongoddess can be 
envisaged to derive from Dawn, elder sister of Night; then 
she delights in arrow-shooting, she causes an outcry among 
beasts and trembling on land and sea, and loves music, 
singing and dancing. 

In i?WI, 64, 3 Usas is likened to a heroic archer/thrower 
asta and a swift warrior volha against foes and darkness. She 
is not a huntress at all, but sets birds and beasts astir early 
(I, 49, 3; IV, 51, 5), while in the Mycenaean documents 
“Artemis (atimite [Dat.], atemito [Gen.]) was not obviously 
associated with animals” (Dietrich 1974: 172, n 218). She 
shares some features with the Artemis of the two Homeric 
Hymns: sister of Bhaga (z Gk Phoibos ) in RV I, 123, 5, 
golden-hued, she has a glittering chariot (III, 6l, 2), is 
likened to a dancer (I, 92, 4) and sings (I, 113, 4; I, 123, 5). 
In i?UIV, 28, 2 and 30, 4, Indra attacks the Dawn and the Sun 
and crushes their chariot and they flee: this is faintly 
reminiscent of Apollo and Artemis fleeing from the 
battlefield, one compelled by Poseidon the other by Hera, 
and with them Leto compelled by Hermes (II 15, 435-503). 
One might even link the name Artemis with the Mitanni 
theophoric names Artatama and Artamanya (Puhvel 1989: 
99) and many Iranian names and nouns with arta- as their 
first element. This initial component arta- is connected with 
Vedic [rta ‘cosmic order’, which Usas is repeatedly said to 
follow. (Cf V [rj- z Gk ar-ges and V rs- z Gk ars-en; the 
-r- was lost in the Men Atimi- ?) Admittedly, these are very 
tenuous threads. 

2. Apollo. In section IV, 3 above, we noted certain close 
parallels between Apollo and Indra. Since the two names are 
so very different it would be difficult to identify him with 
Indra. On the other hand, Zeus bears a name that is cognate 


292 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

with V dyaus but, unlike Dyaus, he is a very active king of 
heaven sharing common features with Varuna and Indra. It is 
therefore worth noting that Apollo has a few more affinities 
with Indra. 9 

Apollo’s birth in the Homeric Hymn To Apollo (11 115-9) 
resembles very much the account(s) of Indra’s birth in the 
Rgveda. The presence of Eileithyia, goddess of child birth, in 
the Greek hymn may be of NE derivation, since this motif is 
not present in the Rgveda-, but it could also come from Greek 
poetic inspiration since a midwife’s presence at a difficult 
birth is not an unnatural phenomenon anywhere. Like Leto, 
Indra’s mother had a difficult deliverance: she carried the 
child in her womb for 1000 months and he came out from her 
side (/?VTV, 18, 1-4). Then, as soon as born, Indra illuminated 
the sky (III, 44, 4) as Apollo leapt into the light (119). Indra 
displayed his warrior’s prowess at once (III, 51, 8), drank the 
divine Soma, put on his garment and filled with his presence 
the two world-halves (IV, 18, 3-5) - as Apollo got washed 
and clothed, was given nectar and ambrosia, then burst out of 
his golden bands, asked for a bow and lyre and strode forth, 
and the whole island of Delos blossomed with gold (120-35). 
The amazement of the goddesses at Apollo’s swift 
emergence and development (11 119, 135) and the gods’ 
alarm as he enters into the palace of Zeus (11 2-3) are 
paralleled by the Vedic description that Heaven and Earth 
trembled in awe at Indra’s coming forth (I, 6l, 14). The 
details are not absolutely exact equivalents, but then again 
they are not found in the description of any other deity in 
Greek, Near Eastern or Vedic texts. 

3■ Aphrodite. Not only modern scholars, but ancient 
writers like Herodotus (I, 105 & 131) see the origin of this 


9 Dr Bhattacharji connects Apollo with Vivasvat (p 243) and Krsna 
(p 303) and Gk Python with S Putana (p 304) whereas she had linked 
Gk Puthon (=Python) with Budhnya (p 150)! She does at least mention 
briefly the parallel of Apollo and Indra slaying the dragon-serpent (p 259). 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 293 


Greek goddess in the Near East and (modern scholars) 
connect her with Sumerian Inanna, who became Akkadian 
Ishtar, Semitic Ashtorith and Astarte. However, there are 
enough indications to show that in part Aphrodite derives 
from or is parallel to, a goddess of the Vedic tradition. First let 
us examine her parentage. 

a) Most of us think of Aphrodite as born out of sea-foam 
while some may know that she rose from Ouranos’ severed 
genitals that floated on the sea-foam (Hesiod’s Theogony, 
188 ff). However, in Iliad 5, 369ff, Aphrodite’s mother is 
Dione who lives on Olympus, and her father Zeus; in 20, 
105, Apollo tells Aeneas, son of Trojan king Priam, that his 
mother Aphrodite is the daughter of Zeus. This means that 
the goddess had a normal birth born of a female, divine or 
mortal, with whom Zeus had coupled - and not out of 
Ouranos’ bloodied genitals in the sea-foam long before Zeus 
came into existence. Dione does not appear anywhere else 
in Homer’s epics, but she is attested in the cult of Zeus at 
Dodona (Kerenyi 1982: 68; Burkert 1992: 98 and n 8), while 
the Mycenaeans had goddess Diwija, who may be related. 
Furthermore, Dione is mentioned by name alone in a long list 
of deities (Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Athena, Leto, et al) in 
Theogony 17, and again in 353 as one of the Okeaninai 
‘Ocean’s daughters’ - but it is not clear if it is one and the 
same Dione. She is also mentioned as one of the “best” 
goddesses present at Apollo’s birth together with Rhea and 
others except Hera (Hymn to Apollo, 92-5). Now, in the 
context of all these high deities, Dione could hardly be the 
humbler Oceanid, unless she bore Aphrodite to Zeus. So 
either there are two Diones, one on Olympus and the other 
in the ocean, or the Oceanid, having born Aphrodite to Zeus, 
was, like Leto, taken up to Olympus by him - though Homer 
and Hesiod say nothing about this! 

Be that as it may, Hesiod gives a totally different account 
for Aphrodite’s birth. Clearly we have two different versions 
of the goddess’ origin. 



294 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Here the Rgveda is of no help. Apart from Dawn-goddess 
Usas and River-goddess Sarasvati who are endowed with 
distinct features, no other female deity appears in the hymns 
having individual personality. Skygod Dyaus, who in the 
context of our discussion may be regarded as the equivalent 
of Zeus, has no consort and is invariably mentioned with 
Mother-goddess Earth, Prthivi or Ksam or Bhumi- Indra has a 
consort Indrani and Varuna Varunani and Rudra (in the 
Sutras) Rudrani. We find the (secondary, marginal) cognates 
diva/divan ‘sky, day’ and divya ‘divine’ but no *divani. 
Keith wrote, “the pale figure of Dione, beside Zeus, suggests 
that the process which produced Indrani and her fellows was 
already working in the Indo-European period” (I, 6l). So 
Dione looks like an inherited form but it is most probably a 
much later Greek production. Whether it was coined by the 
poet(s) of the Iliad , as Burkert seems to think (B 97-8), or is 
of a much earlier date, it is not easy to decide on the available 
evidence. As for the Mycenaean Diwij'a, this clearly z S divija 
‘skyborn’ or divya ‘divine, celestial’. 

b) According to Burkert, the name Aphrodite may be a 
“Greek form of Western Semitic Ashtorith, who in turn is 
identical with Ishtar” (B, 98 and n 7). However, if we forget 
about the Aphrodite-Adonis affair which is parallel to Ishtar 
and Dumuzi/Tammuz and is of late report, there is very little 
left to connect the two goddesses’ character and deeds. 
Here, I ignore the evidence of Paphos and architecture 
(Farnell, 1896: II, 618), of Hermaphroditos, ornaments, 
votive offerings, figurines and the like, many of which are 
doubtful, as presented by Burkert (1977: 238ff): all these 
(particularly, repulsive figurines of a naked goddess with a 
bird face) have little bearing on the character we see in the 
Iliad, Theogony and the Homeric Hymns ( Odyssey 8 being a 
different matter: see c below). 

To begin with, we face serious difficulties with the 
derivation of Aphrodite’s name, whichever way we look at 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 295 


it. Be that as it may, the name does reflect the mythologem of 
her birth out of sea-foam in Theogony 178-97. Even if we 
accept a putative derivation from the Near East, and 
Aphrodite’s birth from Zeus-Dione (be it another 
borrowing), we still have to account for her rise from sea- 
foam in Hesiod. Ishtar has to all appearances a normal birth 
from her parents Anu and Antu. In addition, unlike 
Aphrodite, Ishtar is passionate and explosive wherever she 
appears ( Gilgamesh VI; The Descent of Ishtar ...,- Erra and 
Ishun: MM 77, 80-1; 155ff; 305). Goddess of sexual love, 
storms and war, she had “countless lovers” and an “ability to 
engage in incessant sexual intercourse with numerous men 
without tiring ... Inanna [Sumerian goddess = Akkadian 
Ishtar] was known for her ambition and cruelty” (Dunstan 
1998: 59; Penglase 1994: 19). Aphrodite has no such traits. 
It is claimed that she may be armed and can bestow victory 
(Burkert, 1977: 238 n 8) but we see nothing of this in Homer 
and Hesiod. Her coercion of Helen to go to Paris after his 
defeat by Menelaos (7/ 3, 380-420) is of little significance 
when set beside Inanna: “You are known by your destruction 
of rebel-lands, / ... by your massacring (their people), / ... by 
your devouring (their) dead like a dog” wrote Enheduanna in 
her hymn to that goddess (Pritchard, 1975: 131). No, 
Aphrodite is not a furchtbare Gottin, a terrible goddess, as 
Burkert writes (1977: 240; and nothing more is added by 
Penglase in 1994: l62ff). 

c) The archaic texts present Aphrodite in two different 
versions. In the Iliad (5, 31 Iff) Aphrodite has had her son 
Aeneas with Anchises (under Zeus’ influence, in the long 
Hymn to Aphrodite) and Hephaistos is married to Charis, 
who is well disposed towards Thetis, mother of Achilles 
(7/ 18, 368-409), and therefore cannot be Aphrodite under 
another name, as Kerenyi suggests (1982: 72), since the 
latter is pro-Trojan. In Theogony 945 Hephaistos marries 
Aglaea, the youngest Charis (thus agreeing with Iliad), while 


296 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Aphrodite bears to Ares two sons, Phobos ‘fear’ and Deimos 
'terror’ and a daughter, Harmony ( Theog 933ff). However, in 
Odyssey 8, 276-381, she is married to Hephaistos but gives 
herself to Ares and, in a scene that is both burlesque and soft 
pornography, is caught in the act. (Clearly, the Homer who 
wrote the Odyssey scene is either a different or a very 
forgetful one.) This incident is probably the beginning of her 
reputed promiscuity and the later affairs with Hermes, 
Dionysos and Adonis (GM I, 68ff), in contrast to the timid, 
conciliatory and rather chaste figure in the other texts. 
Although she is the goddess of beauty and her function is to 
stir love and passion in gods and in mortals bringing about 
union ( Theog 203; in II 5, 429 ‘marriage’ erga gamoio) by 
using her magic girdle, she does this not for herself but for 
others. She is docile and not very acute: Hera dupes her very 
easily in borrowing her magic girdle (// 14, 170-214). The 
sexuality that Burkert ascribes to her is also not borne out by 
the very early texts (except Odyssey 8). 

It may be that we have two different aspects of one 
goddess, but the details of her birth and her marriage suggest 
two (or more) distinct figures. The two versions contain 
confused elements and overlap: they furnish the origin of the 
later Ourania ‘Celestial’ Aphrodite (Herodotos I, 105; Plato 
Symposium 180D9 as distinct from the Pandemos ‘Vulgar’ 
(Burkert 1977: 242 and n 34). 

d) In origin, Aphrodite has some affinities with an Indie 
goddess. This is not Usas, the Dawn, as many scholars have 
speculated. D. D. Boedeker argued for Aphrodite’s origin in 
the PIE (really Vedic) Dawn-goddess; seeking support in 
philology, she examined earlier attempts at the derivation of 
the name and finally settled for S abhra ‘rain, cloud, sky’ and 
the PIE *dei- shine’ (1974: 7-12). Following a different route, 
P. Friedrich also arrived at the PIE Dawn-goddess (1978: 22- 
53) and mentioned briefly Beodeker’s work (p 44). Such an 
origin is not impossible, of course; the Greeks formed Dione 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 297 

(z Svdiv > dyaus ‘sky’ etc.: see a, above) as the Romans 
formed Venus (z sVvan ‘love, gain’ > vanas beauty, 
desire’). The Greeks could have formed the name Aphrodite 
from a compound, though not abhra and *dei but perhaps 
abhra- and -udita {*abhrodita is not attested in Sanskrit) in 
the sense ‘risen from sky-water’ (or even abhra- and -aditi 
'the boundless Mother-goddess of sky-waters’ which 
*abhraditi also is not attested). Nonetheless, it is very difficult 
to see what Aphrodite has in common with Usas. Nor is it 
necessary to speculate about innovation and development of 
the Usas figure, because there is another Vedic goddess that 
has several affinities with Aphrodite. This is Sri/Laksml - and 
it could be argued, of course, that this goddess was in some 
earlier phase an aspect of Usas, who is daughter of Dyaus 
(MV I, 48, 1). 

In the Vedic tradition we find goddess Sri ‘goddess of 
beauty and abundance’. (The name appears perhaps in Gk 
Ker/Kar ‘goddess of doom’ and Roman Cer-es ‘goddess of 
agriculture’.) In the Rgveda and Atharvaveda the noun 
means simply ‘beauty, splendour, glory, prosperity’ and the 
like, but it may have a tinge of divinity in RVl, 85, 2 and 
AWl, 73, 1. As a fully recognised goddess she appears in 
Satapatha Brahmana XI, 4, 3 and in the later iconography 
she is often seated on a lotus, thus being connected with the 
(later) appellation Padma ‘She of the lotus’; of course the 
lotus floats on waters. We do not hear of her origin until the 
epics where she is identified with Laksmi as consort of 
Visnu. Here Sri is said to rise from the (butter-) foam of the 
(milk-) ocean when gods and demons cooperated to obtain 
amrta ‘the elixir of immortality’ {MB I, 16 ; with important 
variants Ra I, 45): as the ocean was churned and churned, 
first rose out of it the Sun, then the Moon and then Sri clothed 
in white. (Other wonders rose also and eventually 
Dhanvantarl, the gods’ physician, holding a gourd with 
amrta.) Strangely, West is unaware of this myth (1997: 4-5, 


298 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

where the MB is discussed, and pp 222-6, where a Maori 
myth is mentioned on the separation of earth and sky). 10 

Apart from her birth, Sri has another affinity with the 
Greek goddess in that as Laksmi she is consort of Visnu. 
As we saw, in Theogony Aphrodite is associated with Ares, 
the Wargod. Now, in action Ares is a rather pitiable god of 
war. Zeus, his father, is utterly contemptuous of him (II 5, 
765-6), Athena invariably defeats him (II 21, 40), he gets 
wounded by Diomedes, with Athena’s help (II 5, 858), and 
in fact he never wins a fight (GM I, 73-4); nonetheless, he is 
the Wargod and Aphrodite bears his children. Not of major 
importance in the RV, Visnu ‘the active, expansive one’ 
displays a martial streak in aiding Indra slay Vrtra and himself 
slaying a mighty boar (I, 6l, 7; VIII, 77, 10). He becomes a 
high god in the Brahmanas (SB XIV, 1, 1, Iff; AB V, 1, Iff) 
and in the epics he is incarnated in the warrior caste of 
ksatriyas, as the mighty and wise Krsna of the Mahabharata 
and as prince Rama, the incomparable warrior of the 
Ramayana. Visnu’s consort LaksmI is the goddess of Good 
Fortune and as SIta, Rama’s wife, she bears two sons (but of 
opposite character to Ares’ sons). 

The noun laksmi initially means ‘sign’ (RV, X, 71, 2) as 
also given in Nirukta IV, 10. It acquires the meaning ‘good 
sign’ punya laksmi in the Atharuaveda as also ‘prosperity, 
good fortune’, and in the later texts becomes the name of the 
goddess of Good Fortune. (In fact both Sri and Laksmi are 
juxtaposed as “wives” of Primordial Man, Purusa, in the 
(White) Yajur-Veda XXXI, 22.) In this there is an additional 


10 The critical ed. of the Mahabharata (Poona 1970, BORI, Bk I, ch 16) 
and J. A. B. van Buitenen in his translation (1980, Univ. of Chicago Press, 
vol. 1, pp. 74-442 n 30) accept Sri’s rise as belonging to the mainstream story 
of the epic. 

The emergence of Ida from the milk-offerings poured by Manu onto the 
waters (SB I, 8, 1-11) may be related to Sri/LaksmI also, though this is not 
certain. 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 299 


affinity with Aphrodite, who was at Athens regarded as the 
eldest of the three Fates (Pausanias I, 19, 2; X, 24, 4; GM I, 
72). Kerenyi mentions also Aphrodite’s related aspect as 
Genetullis ‘caring over child-birth’ which places her close to 
Hekate, another Fate-figure (1982: 67). 

Aphrodite’s girdle provides yet another link. In the 
Vedic tradition, women as compared with men are always 
the inferior parts of the sacrificial rite and impure and must 
wear a girdle (SB I, 3, 1, 12). It is not impossible that this 
girdle became in course of time a means for inciting passion. 

e) In conclusion, we have at least two figures of 
Aphrodite, one with a birth from Zeus-Dione and the other 
from the genitals of Ouranos in the sea-foam. The two 
have contradictory aspects and don’t fuse satisfactorily. 
We find contradiction not only between the figure in the 
Homeric epics and that in Hesiod’s Tbeogony, but also 
between the figure in the Iliad and that in the Odyssey. 
Penglase writes that “The birth myth [of Aphrodite] has 
some features which parallel those found with Ishtar in her 
myths” (p 165); but after giving an account of Aphrodite’s birth 
in Theogony, he states “this myth has no parallels of narrative to 
those myths which survive about the Mesopotamian goddess” 
(p 166). The phrase “which survive” suggests that there may 
have been a myth of Ishtar rising from the sea. The suggestion is 
legitimate, of course, but not very honest and it ignores the 
fundamental and irreconcilable dichotomy in Aphrodite, if taken 
as a unitary figure. 

The two figures or the two births of the Greek goddess 
suggest two different sources. The foam-born deity seems to 
be of IE descent while the other one, the figure in the 
Odyssey and later myths, comes from the Near East. This 
view alone would accommodate all the relevant elements in 
the myths and cult of Aphrodite and the testimonies of 
Herodotus (I, 105; I, 131) and of Pausanias (I, 14, 7) about 
her origin in the Near East. 


300 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


VII) Miscellany 

In this section I examine some other elements in the 
Greek culture. 

1) Some Historical considerations 

According to S. Kak (2000) art-experts A. D. Napier, H. 
Zimmer, think that the Gorgo representations in Greece owe 
much to Indie art. This is plausible, but such iconography 
would not be part of the IE heritage the Greeks brought with 
them. Any similarities would be due to contacts between 
Greeks and Indians after the 9th century and mainly due to the 
presence of Indians in the Persian armies that invaded Greek 
areas in the 6th (in Ionia in the eastern Aegean) and early 5th 
centuries (mainland Greece). From the time of the IE dispersal 
in the 4th or 3rd millennium (or even earlier), no contact of 
great significance could have taken place between Greeks 
and Indians before Alexander’s penetration into Bactria. 
There are reports by writers of the Hellenistic and Roman 
periods that Greeks had visited India in much earlier times; 
Plutarch in his Lives ... reports that legendary Lycurgus of 
Sparta visited India ( Lycurgus, 6). In fact Plutarch, Diodoros 
Sikeliotes (known as Siculus) and Diogenes Laertius manage 
between them to send just about every Greek sage into the 
East (including Pythagoras and Democritus, but notably not 
Socrates and Aristotle). Even if such journeys did take place, 
these sages are more likely to have brought back with them 
philosophical or scientific ideas rather than iconographic. 
It is much more likely that iconographic material would have 
reached Greece through conscripted soldiers in the Persian 
armies or through merchants 11 . 


11 Possible contacts between Greece and India from most ancient to 
Roman times have been examined extensively by J. W. Sedlar (1980). For this 
particular period see p. 79. 

Prof S. Kak writes: ‘According to Lomperis (1984), “Plato, through the 
Pythagoreans and also tire Orphics, was subjected to the influence of Hindu 
thought but he may not have been aware of it as coming from India’” (Kak 2000). 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 301 


Unfortunately there is very little evidence available for 
this subject; consequently all discussions must entail much 
conjecture. In any case, the period concerned here is post- 
Archaic. 

2) Lamia and Gorgon. 

Burkert is most probably correct in seeing borrowings of 
iconographic representations of the Lamia and Gorgo 
monsters from NE sources (1992: 82-7). The reproductions 
he presents (1992; also 1987: 30-33) are convincing and are 
matched by similar reproductions in Dailey (1998: 89, 90, 
99, 102). Even archaeologists who minimise the total effect 
of NE influences on archaic Greek arts and crafts accept that 


I have not read Lomperis; his view sounds conjectural, given the 
insufficiency of early Greek sources, but, of course, it is possible. Later in 
the same article Kak cites Zimmer (1946) and Napier (1986, 1992) who 
argue that the Gorgon and the Cyclops have elements deriving from India; 
this too has some plausibility. He also cites Krishna (1980 ) who thinks the 
name of the mycenaean city Tiryns “is the same as that of the most 
powerful Indian sea-faring people called the Tirayans”. This sounds utterly 
improbable. ‘Tiryns’ ( tirun-th-os , genitive singular, with stem tirun-th -) 
cannot philologically be a cognate with, or derivative of, ‘Tirayan’: Greek 
upsilon [u] cannot correspond to, or derive from, Sanskrit [aya] (cf Greek 
kio ‘move, go’, okeanos ‘ocean’ and treis ‘three’ and Sanskrit cognates 
cay-a, asayana and trayas where the correspondence is strictly of palatal 
phonemes); then, we would have to account for the consonant theta. 
If we assumed that this most unlikely linguistic event took place, we would 
have to suppose then that a band of Indian sea-farers before the 17th cent 
BCE somehow managed to sail into the Mediterranean, got into the gulf 
of Argolis in the Peloponnese, landed there, travelled inland and somehow 
established a city or managed to give their own name to an existing 
community, while at that time, or afterwards, the advancing Greeks 
were setting up their own cities at Mycenae, Pylos and elsewhere. 
This I find incredible. 

Relevant titles from Kak’s bibliography: Krishna N. 1980, The Art and 
Iconography of Vishnu-Narayana, Bombay; Lomperis T. 1984, Hindu 
influence on Greek Philosophy, Calcutta; Napier A.D. 1986, Masks, 
Transformation and Paradox, Berkeley; 1992, Foreign Bodies: 
Performance, Art and Symbolic Anthropology, Berkeley; Zimmer H. 1946, 
Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Princeton. 



302 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

there was imitation of and inspiration from NE forms (e.g. 
Starr 1962: 213ff; Snodgrass 1971: 417 & 1980: 64-7). 

However, we must remember that often artists and 
craftsmen in one culture imitate forms of another culture in 
order to improve their own and express better their own 
ideas. These demonesses/ monsters that snatch up children 
(mainly Lamia) and eat up people may have belonged to the 
IE side of the Greek culture. Such monsters are found in most 
cultures. Thus in RVIV, 18, 8 occurs - this once only! - 
kusava-. according to Sayana she is a demonness ‘Evil-birth’ 
who swallows children; according to some modern scholars 
she is a river who swallowed Indra (O’Flaherty 1981: 142 
and n. 14). Nothing more is known about kusava. However 
the Dharmasastra Sutras do refer to demons snatching 
children (e.g. Paraskara’s Grhyasutra I, 12, 4). 

Here a small parenthesis may not be out of place. In the 
Rigvedic mythology anthropomorphism is down to a 
minimum and so is theriomorphism (mainly but not 
exclusively in the case of demons): human or animal features 
are minimal and, of course, at that time (whether 4th 
millennium or c 1000) there were no iconographic 
representations. Thus scholars at different periods 
interpreted these deities and demons as forces of nature 
(Max Muller, Oldenberg, Hillebrandt, Macdonell), as 
psychosomatic or spiritual forces within man (Shrl Aurobindo 
1982; Frawley 1982 & 1992), as forces of fertility and 
sexuality (O’Flaherty in almost all her publications), as 
forces in Thermonuclear Physics (Rajaram 1999) and so on. 
How one interprets the RV hymns obviously depends on 
what circulates in one’s mind at the time. 

3) The Greek legend of the Seven against Thebes (in the 
drama of Aeschylus, c 467, which may carry echoes of 
events from the Mycenaean era) has certain similarities with 
(and many differences from) the NE myth of the terrible 
Seven ( Sebbiti ) who ride with Wargod Erra {MM 282ff). 
Burkert thinks the Assyrian legend may have influenced the 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 303 


Greek one even if the latter were originally an historical 
event (B107-114). In support of the NE influence are 
adduced the Seven Sages and the seven-headed Hydra (B, 
114). Although it is not stated explicitly, it may be that these 
evil Seven are an aspect of the Seven Sages or original 
Craftsmen (MM 291, 294) who, after civilising mankind 
before the flood, were banished back to the Underworld of 
Apsu (MM 327-8). 

In the Veda there is no (allusion to a) legend of Seven 
evil-ones attacking the world or a city - only the 10 against 
king Sudas (III, 5, above). The only approximate motif is 
Indra’s destruction of Seven Forts of a tribe ‘of insulting 
speech’ mrdhravac, whom Keith calls (1989: 234) Dasas, a 
common name for demons, in RV1, 174, 2; but no more is 
said of this. There are many allusions to the Seven Sages 
sapta-rsi (e.g. RVW, 42, 8) and to monstrous Visvarupa who 
is called ‘three-headed’ and ‘seven-rayed’ (II, 11, 19; X, 8, 
8). In later texts there appear seven-headed monsters also. 
However, the most likely candidate, if at all, are the Seven 
Maruts of 2? Will, 28, 5, who are sometimes presented as 
7 bands of 7 (RW, 52, 17), and are companions of Indra. 

The Vedic threads are admittedly very slender but no 
more than the Akkadian ones. Many strange transmutations 
of motifs are observed in oral transmission. Thus Indra, the 
mighty divine hero of the IndoAryans is but a minor fiend in 
the Iranian Avesta-, he appears as Inar(a) in Hittite myths and 
as goddess Andarta (or Andrasta) among the Celts of Gaul 
and Britain. Again, Parjanya, a Vedic minor god of rain, is 
Perenu (and variants) in Slavonic mythology, a great Wargod 
(who, like Indra, killed a serpent to release cattle and waters) 
or the Lord of the universe; in the early Baltic texts he is a 
mere name Perkunas in a list of gods and later the oracular 
Thunder-god; among the Norsemen he appears as male 
Fjorgyn and female Fjorgynn, mother of Thor. Similarly 
azugallatu, the title of the Babylonian goddess of healing, 
Gula, becomes in Greek masculine asgelatas and perhaps 


304 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Asklepios (B 75-9). So it would not be all that incredible if the 
seven godly Maruts appear in Greece as seven evil attackers 
and the seven forts as the seven-gated fort of Thebes - 
possibly with NE influences. 

4) Plato devotes the whole of his Republic to show that a 
society would really prosper only if it were governed by 
wise men or philosopher kings; he reiterates this theme in 
his Laws 71 OB. This theme goes back to archaic texts where 
we read that the land and the people thrive under the good 
government of a faultless king ( Odyssey 19, 106-13) or that 
peace and happiness prevail where just men rule (Hesiod’s 
Works and Days 216-37). This view sounds so superbly 
reasonable that it comes as no surprise to find it expressed in 
other distant cultures, like the Chinese (e.g. Chuang Tzu in 
Giles 1980: 30, 76-7, 109-12), which enquired with sagacity 
into the nature of things. 

This theme may have been developed indigenously by 
the Greeks. On the other hand, it is adequately presented 
also in the Veda. The bare principles of kingship (its 
inviolability, the defence of Law and of the people) and the 
structured social classes are enunciated in the Brahmanas 
(e.g. SB V, 1, 5, 14; V, 4, 4, 7ff; etc.). In these texts there are 
several stories of righteous kings whose realm prospered. 
The best example is perhaps that of Asvapati Kaikeya in 
whose kingdom “there is no thief, no miser, no drunkard, no 
man without the sacrificial fire, no ignorant person, no 
adulterer or courtesan” because he himself “had realised the 
Universal Self” ( Ch Up V, II, 3-5). 

5) The substitution of sacrificial victims is another 
practice in archaic Greece that has parallels in the Veda. This 
substitution in Greece for various reasons in different 
circumstances, including pestilence, is examined 
extensively by D. Hughes (1991: 79ff). The practice is well 
attested in the Veda too. In the Vedic texts this takes many 
forms and is done in a variety of circumstances (Keith, I, 268: 
“the victim is really offered as a ransom for oneself”). The 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 305 

best known case is that of young Sunahsepa whose release is 
mentioned in RV I, 24, 12-3 and whose entire predicament is 
narrated in Aitareya Brahmana VIII, 13ff: an avaricious 
brahmin sells his son, Sunahsepa to king Hariscandra, who is 
suffering from dropsy having avoided to sacrifice his own 
son to Varuna as he had promised to do; the lad takes the 
place of the king’s son and is tied to the post but prays to the 
gods and they release him. The theory of substitution is 
stated in Satapatha Brahmana I, 2, 3ff and in Aitareya 
Brahmana II, 8. Since this practice is found also “in the 
provision of the old Law of the Twelve Tables in Rome 
where a human being is substituted by a Ram” (B, 74), we 
can safely assume that the practice has its root in the IE 
tradition. 

6) The castration of Ouranos by Kronos in Hesiod’s 
Theogony (11 178ff) is a most curious mythological motif. 
Since the discovery of the Hittite texts Kingship in Heaven 
and The Myth of Ullikummi, orientalists and classicists 
invariably cite the NE parallel of Kumarbi castrating Anu as 
the origin for Kronos castrating Ouranos in Hesiod 12 . No 
classicist ever mentions in this connection any affinities with 
the Vedic mythologem of Indra’s slaying the dragon Vrtra 
(RV I, 32); neither do comparativists, as far as I know, 
mention any relation, albeit hypothetical. 

The RV hymn I, 32 is one of many about Indra and his 
heroic deeds and is devoted wholly to Indra’s fighting and 
slaying Vrtra. The most relevant stanza is 7: vrsno vadhrih 
pratimanam sbubhusan purutra vrtro asayad vyastah. 
The more recent translations I have seen by W. O’Flaherty 
(1975: 75; 1981: 150) and by J. Puhvel (1989: 52) are 
misleading in presenting the contrast between a “steer” (i.e. 
Vrtra, a castrated young ox) and a “mighty bull” (i.e. Indra). 
I don’t see why vadhri should be taken only as a metaphor; 
in RVX, 69, 10 the attestation of vadhryasvdh- ‘the gelded 


12 See Penglase (1997: 185-6) for full Bibliography. 





306 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

horse’ or ‘one whose horse is gelded’ indicates that vadhri 
does not on its own automatically mean a castrated animal. 
A more correct translation would read “Emasculated, Vrtra 
lay with limbs dissevered/scattered in many places - he who 
strove to be the equal of the mighty one”. In other Ah'hymns 
we read that Vrtra was struck in his ‘vital part’ (= manna: I, 
16, 6; III, 32, 4; etc.) and then hacked to pieces (I, 16, 12; 
VIII, 6, 13). Vrtra had genitals since there was a brood of 
Vrtras and he was the eldest or foremost. So he got castrated 
in the course of fighting: his genitals were among the other 
parts of his body strewn here and there. And the next stanza 
(8) says that these scattered parts got submerged in billowing 
waters. When, moreover, we learn that Indra himself gets 
emasculated by a curse from sage Gautama after he, in the 
sage’s form, went to bed with his wife Ahalya ( Ra , I, 47-8, 
developing the motif from SB III, 3, 4, 18 & XII, 7, 1, lOff), 
then we can with good reason suspect that the castration of 
Ouranos may well be an inherited motif reshaped and retold 
by Hesiod, perhaps under NE influences. 

There is another point of resemblance in this incident 
that should be taken into account. Stanza 4 of the RV 
hymn says that when Indra killed the dragon “at that moment 
the, Indra] brought forth the Sun, Heaven and Dawn”; in 
RV I, 51, 4 again at the killing of Vrtra Indra raises the Sun in 
the sky. Here then we see cosmogonic action beyond the 
release of the imprisoned waters. But the cosmogony here is 
quite different from the theogonic results of Ouranos’ 
castration. Here the Sun, Heaven, Dawn and Waters already 
exist and are covered up or wholly encompassed by Vrtra 
who is himself encompassed by darkness (AVX, 113, 6); 
Indra merely brings them forth again. The Hesiodic narrative 
has different proliferations: Ouranos disappears completely 
from the scene thereafter and Kronos (born wily, most 
terrible and hating his father) ascends the heavenly throne; 
from the blood of Ouranos on earth emerge the Erinyes (the 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 307 


terrible instruments of divine punishment), giants and 
nymphs, while in the sea rises the goddess of beauty and 
love, Aphrodite. These complications seem to relate to the 
Vedic sacrifice of Purusa (= primordial Man) by the gods and 
its cosmogonic result (RVX, 90); in the Scandinavian myth 
the gods Odin, Vili and Ve dismember the giant Ymir 
(z V Yama) again with cosmogonic results; castration is not 
involved in either - nor in the cosmogonic dismemberment 
of Tiamat by Marduk in the Mesopotamian Epic of Creation 
(MM 256-1). Even stranger seems the Hurrian/Hittite myth 
where Kumarbi, Skygod Anu’s son, bites off and swallows 
his father’s genitals, becomes pregnant (!) and begets three 
gods, one of them being the Weather-god who overthrows in 
turn Kumarbi. I suspect the Greek and NE myths are both 
developments of the PIE motifs as preserved in the Vedic 
tradition. The Hittites after all were IE and must have brought 
with them some inherited material, even though this 
underwent, much more than the Greek IE heritage, “heavy 
substratal exposure and adstratal influence ... vertical 
diffusion from the local past and lateral diffusion from the 
contemporary vicinity”, as Puhvel says of the Greeks (1989: 
22). The Kassites again were IE or had absorbed strong IE 
influences since many of their names and some of their gods 
were of IndoAryan descent 13 : under their rule in Babylonia, 
especially under Agum II (early 16th century), there was “a 
surge of literary invention, collection and recording” (MM 
47, 229; Heidel 1965: 13-4; Roux 1992: 251). 

7) Many other motifs and themes common to the 
mythologies of archaic Greece and Vedic India could be 
mentioned but most of them have been indicated and 


13 Leaving out uncertain or disputed names, we find some names, or an 
element in compound names, that are indubitably Indo-Aryan: -indas 
< S Indra ; -bugas < S Bhaga; -Maruttas < S Marutas (plural); -Surias 
<S Surya-, etc. All are taken from J. A. Brinkman’s chronology and lists of 
Kings in A. L. Oppenheim (1977: 338). 



308 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

discussed by other scholars (e.g. Keith, Bhattacharji, Arora, 
Puhvel et al). In this study I have examined aspects that have 
not been indicated or adequately treated so far and 
especially aspects of literature, religion and magic (sections 
III, IV, V and VII). No doubt there are others. 

VIII) Conclusions 

One first conclusion concerns the archaic Greek culture 
itself. It has a distinct strand of IE tradition. This would not 
have been pure since the Greeks must have assimilated 
other elements from peoples they met on their way to the 
shores of the Aegean. A second strand is the indigenous 
culture the immigrants met when they arrived in Greece: this 
too would have been composite, consisting of the mainland 
culture, the Minoan on Crete and the Cycladic (and other 
islands of the Aegean). A third strand, also composite, came 
from the Near East. These three got interwoven and 
produced the miracle of classical Greece. Puhvel thought the 
Greek tradition was not a conservative repository of IE 
heritage (1989: 22). This is true, of course, but only if one 
compares the Greek culture with the Vedic; otherwise the 
Greeks seem to have preserved much more than any other 
European tradition and the Anatolian one. The fact that the 
Greek language is centum while Vedic is satam (or saf&m) 
suffices to show that the Greeks and the IndoAryans were 
not close companions for any length of time to the exclusion 
of the other IE branches (i.e. Celts and Slavs, for example). 
Therefore the Greek correspondences or parallels with 
Vedic elements or practices cannot be coincidental (though 
some of them may be due to independent development): 
they derive from a common source, the PIE culture. 

Another motif common to NE mythologies, Greek 
theogony and the Veda, is the incestuous relationship of 
many deities. In the peoples of the Near East this 
relationship is also a fact of life, at least among royal families. 


ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 309 


This is not so in the archaic Greek and Vedic cultures: incest 
is condemned in both, as is evident in the Oedipus legend 
(mother-son relation) and the Yama-YamI dialogue in RVX, 
10 (sister wants to mate with brother but he resists). The 
explanation I would offer is that the Vedic culture knew that 
the gods were not real and did not exist as autogenous and 
autonomous entities. Karel Werner argued convincingly that 
the Rgveda contains two concurrent beliefs: one in 
polytheism with many individual gods and one in 
monotheism (1989). Indeed, the Creation Hymn RVX, 129 
presents a most profound view of the primal Unity as the 
origin of all divine, cosmic and human phenomena. Scholars 
somewhat grudgingly conceded to the ancient Indian seers 
this view placing it as a late development of Vedic 
speculative thought (e.g. Keith, II, 446). Werner 
(acknowledging the work of R. Otto and others) showed that 
this was not so, but that monotheism is in the RV as old as 
polytheism. He should have utilised at least four more 
hymns. Two, which may be late (I, 164, 6 and X, 114, 5), say 
that poets speak of It, being One, in many ways - naming 
It Agni, Yama, Indra etc. The other two belong to the Family 
Books and are probably very early: hymn VIII, 58, 2 says “It 
being One has variously (vi) become this All (and 
Everything)”; then, the refrain of III, 55 states plainly “Single 
is the great god-power ( asuratva ) of the gods.” Since the 
deities were representations of cosmic forces and 
manifestations of the One, then obviously it would not matter 
if they united and generated other deities just as cosmic 
forces mingle and generate new phenomena. In social life 
incest was not practised in ancient India, nor among the other 
IE branches. 

The idea of a primordial Unity as the originative 
principle of all cosmic phenomena is absent in the Greek 
(and other IE) and NE mythologies, though in Greece some 
three centuries of philosophical enquiry into the nature of 



310 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

things led eventually to formulations .of that Unity (by 
Anaximander, u Melissos of Samos and Plato). The Greeks 
retained the incestuous relationships among the gods but, 
probably because of their IE heritage, not in their ordinary 
life. So did the IndoAryans. The odd thing about the Greeks 
is that while their Philosophy found that primordial Unity, 
their religion continued with its polytheism. Of course, the 
same thing prevailed much earlier in ancient India. 
Obviously the One Primal Source of all, being Itself 
unmanifest, cannot so readily become an object of worship 
as other deities. 

The second conclusion concerns the Vedic culture. 
Without it much in the ancient European cultures would have 
remained unconnected and unexplained - both in language 
and in religion or mythology. The legend of Greek 
Dioskouroi and Lithouanian Dievo Sunelai would not have 
been connected if it had not been for the Vedic Asvins. The 
practice of sacrificial substitute (above VI, 5), to mention an 
example from religion, would be considered (as Burkert 
takes it in 1992: 73-5) a result of borrowing or diffusion from 
the Near East to Greece and thence to Rome. Philologists in 
the West, and no doubt many in India who follow western 
trends, place almost all IE branches on the same level in 
linguistic and broader cultural considerations. Thus 
O’Flaherty refers to “Indo-European attitudes” and “Indo- 
European cultures” in her examination of the IE myth of 
twins and horse-deities and begins with a discussion of the 
Celtic material and then the Vedic - and first the ritual of the 
horse-human copulation and then the myths (1980: 151ff); at 
least Puhvel starts his comparative study with the Vedic 
tradition (1989). It is understandable that all cultures should 


14 Through inadvertence I had written here Parmenides and this was 
printed in ABORI LXXXII, p. 34 Parmenides’ One Being has limits and is 
presented as a sphere, a concept quite different from the Unlimited 
a peiron of Anaximander and Melissos. The error is hereby corrected. 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 311 


be studied with the same zeal but not that all should be 
accorded the same status or importance. Why? First of all, it is 
obvious that some preserve only a very small amount of 
inherited forms while others have a very rich inheritance and 
the Vedic tradition seems to be the wealthiest of them all. 
Then the Vedic heritage, even by the most niggardly dating 
at c 1000 BC,_ is older by at least 300 years than the earliest 
Greek records (barring the scanty Mycenaean ones). There is 
no disagreement among scholars that “Vedic is a language 
which in most respects is more archaic and less altered from 
original Indo-European than any other member of the 
family” (Burrow 1973: 34). Here we can add some 
philological considerations. Greek has buios for ‘son’ (z S 
sunu, Gm sun-, SI synu, Tocharian A/B se/soy, 
Av humi) and hus/sus for ‘sow (she-swine)’ (z S su-kara, 
Gm su-/gu-, L sus, Av hu). Curiously, in Greek (and in the 
other IE languages) the two stems stand isolated without a 
root or other verb- and noun-cognates. Only Sanskrit 
provides a root (common for both ‘son’ and ‘sow’) with the 
dhatu Vsu (>sute) ‘beget’ and cognates both in nouns and 
verb-formations. Again Gk thugater ‘daughter’ stands 
rootless and isolated, as do its cognates in the other IE 
languages (Av dugddar, Gm tocbter , Lith dukte, etc.); there 
are secondary, later formations e.g. Gk thugatrion, but only S 
duhitrs hows a connection with V 'duh ‘milk, derive’ and other 
cognates. We observe the same situation with Gk meter 
‘mother’ (z L mater, Gm muoter, etc.) or mus ‘mouse’ 
(L mus Gm mus/maus, etc.): here too only Sanskrit has \ I mus 
‘steal’ and other primary nominals and verbal formations. 
Another, somewhat different consideration concerns the IE 
names for ‘sun’: all branches have cognates like S sitrya, Gk 
helios, L sol, Lith saule etc., all masculine, except the Gm 
sunn- (Old English sunne OHG sunna) which is feminine; 
yet here again Sanskrit has f surya ‘sunmaiden’ and thus 
provides a probable explanation for the difference. It is 



312 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

strange that, given all these simple facts, the Vedic culture is 
not given the higher status it deserves and it is a pity 
sanskritists acquiesce in this situation 15 . 

An examination of archaic Greek cosmogonic material 
would reveal further parallels in the Vedic texts. Neither in 
the Mycenaean nor in the archaic Greek period do we find 
the concept of the Unity that is the originative principle of all 
creation. This is true, of course, of all other IE and NE 
mythologies - except the Judaic religion; even in Egypt, 
Atum (=the Complete One), who ‘evolves’ or ‘becomes’ 
( =kheper ) out of the primeval Water Nun, is only a secondary 
power, having something prior to him. It is therefore correct 
to see in all these mythologies “matter created from the 
action of heat on water” and also “a multi-layered dualism 
that pervades Indo-European myth and religion” (Stone 
1997: 79). However, it is misleading to ascribe this view (as 
Stone does on the same page 16 ) to the Vedic tradition as well, 
which, more clearly than any other ancient document, asserts 
the primordial Unity as the First Principle of all cosmogony. 
Such an examination would, however, require a separate 
study. 

The evidence of parallels between archaic Greece and 
India leads to a third conclusion — that there are connections 
between the Vedic tradition and NE cultures. In the course of 
our discussion we saw many similarities both in mythological 
motifs and ritual practices. 17 Many of them could perhaps be 
ascribed to independent coincidental growth, arising from 

15 Some notable exceptions have argued for the seniority and importance 
of Sanskrit and the Vedic culture: e.g. L. Dhar The Home of the Aryans 1930, 
Imperial Book Depot, Delhi; S. S. Misra TheAiyan Problem 1992, Munshiram 
Manoharlal, Delhi; et al. I disregard here shrill Indian publications that rely 
on nationalist feeling rather than scholarly method and evidence. 

10 Puhvel states the situation with care, making the right distinction: Fire 
and ice/water were both present in Norse cosmology and eschatology 
alike. ‘Fire in water’ is a theme that recurs in Indo-Iranian, Irish and Roman 
lore, in a complex mythologem of clear Indo-European significance” 
(1989: 277). 



ARCHAIC GREECE AND THE VEDA / 313 


observation of natural phenomena like sunrise, rain, storm 
and lightning, the night-sky, the repetition of seasons and 
so on. Such may be, to take Egyptian mythology, the 
separation of Earth and Sky by Shu, god of Air and Light who 
corresponds to Indra in his aerial and solar aspects. That 
Hathor should be thought of in terms of a divine Cow of 
plenty, while the all-nourishing Cow of heaven is a very 
common motif in the Veda, would also fall in the same 
category; the same can be said of Earth appearing in the 
midst of Waters, a concept shared by both the Egyptian and 
Vedic people. This, however, cannot be said of the idea that 
the souls of heroes or noblemen after death go to heaven and 
join the sun or stars: this concept could not have arisen from 
observation, nor the concept of “the cosmic egg” in the 
Vedic lore ( marta-anda ‘sprung from the dead egg’ in RVX, 
72, 8; hiranya-garbha ‘golden germ’ in X, 121, 1; division of 
egg in Ch Up III, 19, 1-4) and in the Egyptian Book of the 
Dead, spell 85 (also Coffin Texts, spell 223: for both, see 
Faulkner). However this matter also would require a 
separate study. 


1 Many a scholar (e.g. West 1978: 175-6, with bibliography) thinks that 
Indie legends like the 4 Yugas (Manusmrti I, 81-6) and many others have a 
NE origin. M. Eliade believes that the conception of seven or nine heavens 
found in Buddhism and earlier Brahmanism “probably represents the 
influence of Babylonian cosmology” (1972: 406) but adduces no evidence 
for this and I can’t help wondering why the statement is made at all. Arora, 
again, thinks that NE legends influenced Vedic texts (1981: 183-4) and that 
Greek legends influenced the Indian epics and fables (177-82). The latter 
case is very probable if we take into account the settlement of Greeks into 
the northwestern regions of India after Alexander. The former case can be 
maintained only if we accept the “Aryan-immigration” theory and all it 
entails, a theory that has no basis whatever in fact (see n. 5, above). 



8 . Shamans, Religion, Soma and the 

Rgveda 


1. Writer G. Hancock follows R. G. Wasson’s researches 
into the use of a hallucinogenic or, as the newer term is, 
entheogenic drug from the mushroom amanita muscaria 
(= fly agaric) and indologists S. Kamrisch and W. Doniger O’ 
Flaherty (1986): they all think that this mushroom was the 
soma potion, so amply celebrated in the RV (= Rgveda). He 
then concludes that “an ancient hallucinogenic cult exploiting 
the well-know[n] shamanic virtues of the fly agaric 
mushroom provided the visionary spark out of which the 
Vedas first emerged fully formed in remote prehistory” 
(Hancock 2005: 529). This view about the origin of the Vedas 
cannot be ruled out altogether, but no indologist who has 
even an elementary knowledge of the RV would entertain it. 
For there is another aspect to the “visionary spark” of the RV 
which all these writers ignore rather flagrantly. 

Hancock’s statement about the origin of the Vedas is 
expressed in the much wider context of the origin of religion. 
In his book Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers 
of Mankind, having himself experimented with psychotropic 
substances, he examines at length the experiences of 
shamans who by ingesting various similar substances (or by 
means of rhythmic dancing) produce in themselves altered 
states of consciousness or trances and thereby have the 
power to see in distant places and periods, to cause rain, to 
heal and the like. These shamans who still exist in South 
America and many other parts of the world, are the “ancient 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 315 

teachers of mankind”. They are termed “ancient” because 
Hancock, following D. Lewis-Williams’ neuropsychological 
theory regarding prehistoric Rock and Cave Alt as expressed 
in numerous publications (1988, 1989, 1998, 2002 etc) does 
not doubt that this palaeolithic Art was produced by shamans. 
Hancock disagrees with Lewis-Williams because the latter 
“professes that the spirit worlds and beings encountered 
while hallucinating are not in any sense real” (Hancock 2005: 
564; see also p 284-5). He thinks that this “spirit world” is 
very real. Nonetheless, he accepts that, as Lewis-Williams 
and Dowson first indicated (1988: 203-204), there are three 
stages or levels of mental images in this kind of hallucinating 
experience: stage one consists of entoptic phenomena 
(=geometric patterns like dots, parallel lines, zig-zag or wavy 
meanders, grids and the like); in stage two, these are turned 
into iconic forms (e.g. a zig-zag or wavy lines elaborated into 
snakes) and as this stage further develops, there appears an 
experience of a surrounding “vortex” or “rotating tunnel”; 
stage three has iconic shapes, often animal, therianthropic 
(=half-man half-beast) and other monstrous images; 
(Hancock 2005: 198-207; also a simple presentation in 
Lewis-Williams 2001: 338). The monstrous images are not 
only therianthropes (pp 69-93) and unnatural animals with 
two heads or elongated bodies (126-129) but also, drawn 
now out of recent material, fairies and dwarfs (364-410) and 
extra-terrestrials with their therianthropic forms (57, 26l, 323 
etc). However, Hancock agrees with Lewis-Williams’ 
understated but far reaching theme that “mankind’s first 
representations of supernatural beings, and with them our 
earliest religious ideas, were derived from hallucinatory 
experiences” (2005: 209, italics added). It does not occur to 
them that humans may have began their existence on earth 
with natural, inborn religious ideas and conditions, that did 
not require any hallucinatory experiences including taking 
external substances. 


316 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 



2. Neither Hancock nor Lewis-Williams were the first to 
ascribe the origin of religion to such non-ordinary drug- 
induced experiences. As mentioned earlier, Wasson et al had 
ascribed the origins of religion to the experiences arising 
from entheogenic drugs prepared from mushrooms like the 
fly agaric or from ergot of rye (1986: 24, 27, 41 etc). In that 
volume Wasson, Kramrisch and O’Flaherty dealt mainly, but 
not exclusively, with Soma and the Vedic culture, J. Ott with 
the Mesoamerican culture (Mexico) and C. Ruck with Greece 
and mainly Euripides’ Bacchae as describing the introduction 
of the New Dionysiac religion. Even earlier, W. Le Barre had 
written “shamanism or direct contact with the supernatural in 
these states [‘altered states of consciousness’] is the de facto 
source of all revelation, and ultimately of all religions” (1980: 







SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 317 

83)- However, Wasson traces the mushroom amanita 
muscaria to many other cultures - the Mayans, Siberians, 
Maoris, Tibetans, Madagascans etc. In an earlier publication 
with Ruck and Hoffman (1978), they argued that the 
Eleusinian Mysteries, held a little west of Athens, included 
the ingestion of an entheogen (ergot) and that Demeter’s 
journey to the underworld to claim back her daughter 
Persephone was a shamanic trip that celebrates the forces of 
life and regeneration. 

I shall not deal with all these cultures and their use of 
entheogenic substances beyond saying that I find such 
practices very probable, even though the evidence is not in 
every case adequate. Nor will I examine Lewis-Williams’ 
claim that the Rock and Cave Art of Europe (c 33000 BP), 
Africa (c 25000 BP) etc is the work of shamans or the 
expression of their visions in trances and that in those long- 
ago experiences are found the seeds of religion. For here we 
must take into account two related aspects. The first is easy 
and concerns the very nature of religion: what do we mean 
by religion and by religious experience? Obviously different 
people mean different things and the matter requires detailed 
discussion. The second aspect concerns the neurological 
change and the increased intelligence that is supposed to 
have occurred in homo sapiens c40000 BP which manifested 
in changes in human behaviour, in the production of art itself, 
in forms of burial and in various social phenomena. It is true 
that graves were discovered with skeletons wearing 
ornaments, caves with painted ceilings and walls and many 
portable pieces of art in stone and bone. But does this 
necessarily indicate a neurological change and increased 
intelligence? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. This aspect also 
requires detailed discussion. 

In this paper I examine only Vedic religion and Soma. 

3. That the Soma drink of the RV was extracted from the 
amanita muscaria or fly agaric, as the mushroom is called, 
seems to me fairly certain. Nowhere is soma said to have 


318 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

roots, leaves or fruit of any kind. Nor is it found in remote 
high places. In RV 8.91, going down to a stream for water, the 
girl Apala finds soma by the way (srut-, or on the bank), takes 
it home and extracts the juice pressing the plant with her 
teeth (jdmbba-suta) - no ritual act here. Wasson argues this 
identification so very convincingly (1971), that one cannot 
entertain the notion of ephedrine being soma or that the plant 
was fetched from mountains in Iran. Although an earlier 
publication of his with this very information had been 
dismissed by J. Brough in 1971 (see Wasson 1986:27), no 
less a sanskritist than D. Ingalls of Harvard accepted the 
identification without any hesitation in a paper of that very 
year (1971). Ingalls’ paper contains ‘Remarks on Mr. 
Wasson’s Soma’ and is printed next to Wasson’s ‘The Soma 
of the Rig Veda: What was it?’, both in the Journal of The 
American Oriental Society, vol 91 (2). 

This brings me to good honest scholarship. Neither 
Wasson nor Hancock refer to Ingall’s article. Wasson writes 
at length about Prof. Brough’s objections (1986:27) but does 
not mention Ingalls’ article and his agreement. Hancock, 
again, mentions Wasson’s article in JAOS (2005: 527, 691, 
notes 110-112, 118-121) but not Ingalls’ which comes 
immediately after. What is so important about Ingalls’ article 
and why was it ignored? Well, apart from accepting Wasson’s 
identification ‘soma-mushroom’, Ingalls points out that, in the 
RV, there are “two sorts of religious expression and religious 
feeling, one ... calm, reflective, almost rational; the other built 
about the Soma experience ... exciting, immediate, 
transcending the logic of space and time” (1971:191). Any 
student of the RV would recognize immediately the two 
religious aspects - and, if acquainted with Greek literature, 
would associate them with the Apollonian and Dionysiac 
strands in the Greek culture - at least as one well known 
view puts it. Ingalls admits that he is not a specialist in the RV, 
if he were, he would have known further that both aspects 
derive from a third one, about which we shall speak later. 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 319 

Obviously, both Wasson and Hancock are convinced that the 
origins of religion are to be found in Shamanic trances and 
revelations, they wish to promote this notion further, as do so 
many other writers (e.g. Winkelman 1992; McClenon 1997; 
etc) and so do not mention an article that would provoke 
serious doubts about this thesis. 

Ingalls touches on two other points in Wasson’s theory of 
Soma (1968, 1971). In his 1968 publication, the mycologist 
writes that rigvedic priests take on the role of Indra and Vayu 
and drink Soma (p.25,30); also, that the priests urinate and 
others drink the urine which in this specific case contains 
Soma even more purified, having been filtered through the 
human organism and therefore more heightened and 
exhilarating. Ingalls rightly points out that nowhere in the RV 
is ever the suggestion that priests assume the role of gods, 
admits that in two or three hymns (2.34.13; 8.40.10; 9.74.4) 
there is urination in connection with Soma, then says that in 
the 10000 verses of the RV only once are priests said to piss 
Soma (9.74.4) and analyses the relevant stanzas to show that 
the verb mihanti “they urinate” is here used metaphorically 
(pp 189-190). And I think Ingalls’ analysis is quite correct; for 
we shouldn’t take a line or passage out of context, interpret it 
in a particular way then use our interpretation as evidence to 
prove a theory which, in fact, generated the interpretation in 
the first place. This circuitous and highly dubious process is 
unfortunately met very frequently in all kinds of writings. 

Are we then to dismiss Wasson’s view? Not at all. 

4. Wasson refers to 9.74.4 which reads : _ 
atmanvan nabho duhyate ghrtam payah 
rtasya na bhir amftam vi jayate; 
samlclnah sudanavah prlnanti tarn 
naro hitam ava mehanti peravah 

‘[As] a living cloud (or, sky) possessing life, it [= pot with 
Soma] gives forth butter and milk (i.e. highly nutritious 
substances); the navel of Truth immortal (or, “ambrosia” 


320 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

amrta) is about to become manifest. Altogether, the generous 
ones (sudanavah usually ‘gods Maruts’ here probably 
‘priests’) make it well-disposed; the delivering fying/ 
fructifying swollen (? peravah) men (or, Maruts) urinate it 
(= Soma) down as it is sent.’ (The Maruts’ urination is rain.) 

Even if it is the one and only incident in the RV where 
gods/men urinate, even if it is wholly metaphorical, we 
cannot ignore altogether the evidence which Wasson arrays 
in such detail from so many different cultures and particularly 
from Siberia. “He who drinks the juice of the hallucinogenic 
mushroom saves his urine, and others drink this urine with 
the identical inebriating effect, perhaps heightened, for there 
is reason to think that certain nauseating ingredients in the 
original mushroom are filtered out in passing through the 
human organism. This use of the urine can be repeated over 
and over again, it is said, until it has passed through five 
human bodies” (Wasson 1971:178). Wasson presents 
evidence from other cultures too and, in addition, cites 
several examples of urine-drinking from post-rigvedic and 
even modern times. Thus, in the Asvamedha Book of the 
epic Mahabharata (14.54.12-35), Lord Krsna in the guise of 
an untouchable matanga invites the holy man Uttanka to 
drink his urine but the latter refuses and so loses the 
opportunity to join the immortals. Even today some devotees 
show a willingness to drink their guru’s urine (Wasson 
1971:179). 

Undoubtedly it is unhealthy to drink urine. But when the 
urine is in fact a purified potion that brings an elevated state 
of consciousness without any inebriation and hangover and 
addiction, then one’s caution or repugnance must be due to 
deeprooted (Western) conditioning and prejudice. 

Personally, I find nothing unacceptable in all this. At the 
risk of upsetting many Indian friends (and Western 
sensibilities), I do accept Wasson’s contention that the 
rigvedic priests drank Soma which was a distillation from fly¬ 
agaric and, even, its (more pungent) liquid form in urine. 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 321 

Apart from the hymn cited above (9.74.4), 2.34.13 also 
speaks of urination as the Rudras in the form of horses emit 
soma. Then, 8.4.10 ascribes the same action to Indra: ‘Come 
here to drink as a thirsty stag: drink as much soma as you 
wish. Urinating it out day by day, O generous One 
maghavan, you have assumed your mightiest aspect!’. So we 
don’t have an isolated instance. 

However, the important point for this essay is that there 
was in the RV another aspect of religion that did not entail the 
drinking of Soma. Ingalls referred to this as the worship 
of Firegod Agni “built about the hearth fire with a daily ritual 
- calm, reflective, almost rational”; this, too, was a channel of 
communication “between the human and the divine” 
(1971:191). But in fact there is much more to it than Ingalls 
writes. 

5 . In the RV we can detect a process which I call 
“divinization” and which is, really, the same as the 
upanishadic or yogic “Self-Realization”, as is commonly 
termed in our times (Kazanas 2005, 2007). Most scholars, like 
Ingalls, somehow miss or disregard this aspect but some few 
have noted it and commented on it extensively (Shri 
Aurobindo 1956, Coomaraswami 1942, Jeanine Miller 1974, 
1985, Werner 1989). 

Repeatedly in the RV one god or another is said to reside 
within man. For instance, Agni, which is also the ordinary fire 
but is said to encompass all gods (5.3.1, 5.13.6), is the light 
and source of all inspiration krdtu, is swiftest mental energy 
and is placed in man’s heart hrdaya ahita- (6.9.4-6): it is 
perceived there through mind manasa nicay- (1.67.2-3; 
3.26.1; 4.2.11, etc.). The Holy Power brahman is also within 
man or as the innermost armour (brahma varma 
mamantaram, 6.75.19). A very clear statement reveals that 
‘the mighty and wise guardian of the entire world has entered 
me [= the poet] a simpleton’ - ino visvasya bhuvanasya 
gopah sa ma dhirah pakam atra vivesa, 1.164.21. Some 


322 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

prudent visionaries seek and manage to realize these powers 
within themselves and chiefly the acittam brahma ‘the Holy 
Power that is beyond conception’ (1.152.5). Many 
descriptions are given in the hymns. I quote one from one of 
the older hymns: ‘they found the spacious/infinite light even 
as they were reflecting’ - uru/jyotir vividur didhyanah, 
7.90.4. Another statement comes from a later hymn when the 
seer Kanva declares how he was born even like the Sungod 
Surya after he had received essential knowledge (medha) 
about the Cosmic Order {.da) from his father. 

In these (and other) cases like 3-31.9, 5.81.1, etc., Soma is 
not involved in the least. The higher state of consciousness or 
self-realization comes through contemplation, meditation, 
reflection and, of course, the subjugation of mind and its 
thoughts (1.151.4, 5.81.1 etc.). In other words, it comes not 
through some entheogen or other artificial, external aid but 
through mental action and other purely psychological 
processes accompanied by serious ethical practices, as is 
suggested in many hymns (1.125.7, 2.23.17, 4.5.5, etc., etc.). 

In fact, to be fair to the RV, I must mention the fact that 
even the Soma ritual with the pressing, filtering and final 
drinking, has often an inner, psychological quality as if it is a 
process within man. The three filters, which Wasson (rightly) 
sees externally in the reality of the material distillation of the 
potion, are said to be within the heart hrdy-antar (9.23.8). 
Then, 10.85.4 gives this cryptic statement: ‘As you stand 
listening to the singers, O Soma, no earthly person tastes of 
you’. It may be that soma is not being drunk literally or it may 
be that it is a supra-normal power within man which cannot 
be felt or realised unless man refines his being and rises 
above his earthly common existence. But this symbolism for 
an inner process I shall not press too far now. We must also 
accept the simple reality that brahmin-priests imbibed the 
entheogen and had visions and experiences out of the 
ordinary. 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 323 

However, since, as we just saw, the higher states of 
consciousness and experiences achieved through Soma¬ 
drinking could be and were being attained by natural 
processes without the introduction of entheogens, it does not 
seem probable that the Vedic religion, even as Wasson, 
Lewis-Williams and Hancock conceived it, began with some 
revelries. And this thought can be extended to cover the 
origins of religion in much earlier cultures in prehistoric, 
palaeolithic times. Since the people of the RV had means 
other than inebriating elixirs to attain higher levels of 
consciousness and unite even briefly if not permanently with 
“divine” forces, there is every reason to suppose that normal 
humans (i.e. anatomically modern humans, homo sapiens 
sapiens) could and did achieve similar states in earlier periods 
without the use of drugs. It is like sleeping - to use an 
analogy. People who sleep naturally, going into deep sleep 
and getting rest and energy-replenishment, do not need and 
would not take sleeping pills. Only when this natural ability 
is lost or impaired, say in pathological conditions, would 
people resort to the artificial means of sleep-inducing 
substances. Similarly, one could argue that people turned to 
entheogens after they had lost the capacity to rise naturally to 
higher levels of being and consciousness. 

Let us explore this further. 

6. Lewis-Williams stresses the fact that Shamans obtain 
“extra-human” powers frequently through an ordeal and an 
encounter with death (2002: 274): here he follows M. Eliade 
(1972: 43ff) who examines Siberian shamanic practices, 
Katz (1982) who describes the shamans in African tribes and 
Joan Halifax (1982) who writes about the suffering of 
shamans worldwide. Such experiences belong to the realm 
of “somatic hallucination”, he writes (Lewis-Williams 2202: 
271): here somatic (from Greek soma) means ‘bodily’ and 
has nothing to do with the potion Soma! “Somatic 
hallucinations”, he continues “may be induced by ingestion 


324 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

of psychotropic drugs, sensory deprivation and other 
extraneous factors [like the extended rhythmic dancing of 
tribes in South Africa or India], or by pathological conditions 
such as temporal lobe epilepsy and schizophrenia”. In 
subsequent pages he presents various images of wounded 
people both from African Rock Art and from Upper 
Palaeolithic cave-art (pp 276, 278). Hancock examines many 
other sources and devotes many more pages to this theme 
giving many more representations of similar nature (2005: 
262-275). He also emphasizes the incidence of 
therianthropic images or the different stages of 
transformation from man to beast as found in Upper 
Palaeolithic art (72-93; also 124-9; 175-180) and of abstract 
patterns like grids, zig-zag lines, honeycomb repetitions etc 
(197-207). 

In their altered states of consciousness or trance journeys, 
the shamans have their somatic hallucinations or visions in 
that they enter “the world of spirits” as it is said. Their world 
has three tiers: there is the ordinary daily life we all 
experience, then the spirit world above and also the spirit 
realm below (Lewis-Williams 2002: l45ff). In the world 
above, they experience lightness and dissociation and look 
down on their surroundings as they rise to the sky flying 
through the air, meet various “spirits” of people and animals 
(even while themselves are often transformed into animals) 
and receive information from them. Or they sink to the realm 
below going through the ground or water, rushing through a 
tunnel or swirling in a vortex, where they again meet spirits 
and their own “animal helpers”. 

In these states they mostly experience much pain, like 
being pierced by arrows, or being severely stung or bitten, or 
having their flesh torn off their bones or entrails pulled out 
and so on (Hancock 2005: 268-275). 

There have been many studies on the various aspects of 
shamanism (Boas 1888, Bourke 1892, Mikhailowiski 1894 
etc) since the end of the 19th century and many more in the 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 325 

20th (Dixon 1908, Shirokogoroff 1926, 1935, Elkin 1930, 
Harper 1957, Eliade 1972, Kalweit 1988, Ripinski-Naxon 
1993 etc). From these and more recent studies (Francfoit et al 
2001, Narby and Huxley 2001, Keeney 2003 etc) we see that 
the shaman comes out of his trance state with new powers 
which he normally places at the service of his community. 
It is recorded that he has the ability to see into the future or 
distant regions, to cure the sick, to control the weather and 
animals, to levitate, to cause telekinesis and practise 
telepathy, to transport souls back and forth from the 
netherworld, to enter and possess another’s body, and to 
initiate new shamans. Such powers obviously give him great 
importance in the community. 

7 . As was said shamans enter these states and obtain their 
visions or “somatic hallucinations” by special rituals involving 
ingestion of a psychotropic substance (like fly agaric or some 
other psilocibyn-containing mushroom etc) or extended 
dance leading to trance, or else though dreams and even by 
viewing this parietal art once it was painted on rocks or cave- 
walls and ceilings (Lewis-Williams 2002:157-8). Their 
hallucinations were often seen to emerge from within the 
walls or ceilings in the caves or the rock-surfaces in the open, 
often crowding one on top of the other and/or floating here 
and there with no exact scale or positioning of figures 
(Hancock 2005: 243). When the trance ended they would 
reproduce (or they might describe to others to do so) the 
important elements of their visions in painted images on the 
places they had seen them thus establishing “portals to the 
spirit world” (ibid). What were the highlights of such 
hallucination? 

Hancock sums up eight categories appearing in this art 
(2005:240). 

a) Abstract geometrical patterns (zig-zags, grids etc) often 
in combination with fully iconic figures. 

b) Hybrid animals blending characteristics from two or 
more different species (snake reedbuck, antelope-feline etc). 


326 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

c) Monsters like a lion with two heads and other bizarre 
creatures. 

d) The therianthrope - part man part animal. 

e) The figure of “wounded man” pierced by spear(s) or 
arrow(s). 

f) The rock face is often used to the best advantage by 
exploiting its mounds and hollows to give the impression of a 
screen out of which emerge the figures. 

g) Many superimpositions of images upon earlier images. 

h) Disregard of scale and absence of ground and horizon 
lines as though the images are floating. 

A ninth feature in these images could be added to the list: 
men, therianthropes and animals often seem to bleed at the 
nose. 

The RV tells quite a different tale. 

8 . In the RV we find no mention whatever of anybody 
being in pain or suffering in any way as a result of having 
drunk Soma or having been in deep reflexion. For instance, 
one of many descriptions in Eliade reads as follows: One 
novice was initiated by his shaman ancestors while he was ill: 
“they pierced him with arrows until he lost consciousness ... 
they cut off his flesh, tore out his bones ...” (1972:43). 
Another neophyte has his navel pierced by a lance and an 
arrow, then is killed and afterwards resurrected by an older 
shaman (1972:55). Eliade has about 30 pages of such 
descriptions of dismemberment, death and resurrection - all 
experienced in “somatic hallucinations”. In the RV hymns 
there is nothing even remotely resembling such experiences. 
Drinking soma is always a joyous, exhilerating, most 
satisfying experience. 

Commenting on “shamanism” in ancient India Eliade finds 
that hymn 10.136, usually titled Kesin Tong/loose-haired’, 
belongs to the category of the shamanic flight to the sky and 
acquisition of godly powers (407-8). Yes, pehaps so. But 
other seers also ascend to heaven (like Vasistha in Varuna’s 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 327 

boat: 7.88) while the Rbhus are actually raised to godhood. 
However, Eliade does admit that these practices and beliefs - 
even in post-rigvedic times - “are not necessarily 
‘shamanic’”. He examines briefly tapas which he thinks is 
primarily “excess of heat ... obtained by meditating close to 
fire ... or by holding the breath” but does not consider at all 
the soma-drinking practice - except for the briefest mention 
(413). But he does note that sutra 4.1 in Patanjali’s Yogasutra 
refers to medicinal plants ausadhi having the power to give - 
like samadhi - miraculous powers. Finally, he finds shamanic 
elements in some hymns, like 10.57 and 58 and AY hymns 
8.1.3 and 8.2.3 where the soul is called back (414-5). But, of 
course, such hymns may well refer to reincarnation or to the 
acquisition of a form in higher realms and have nothing to do 
with shamanistic practices. He notes also “shamanic motifs 
that still survive in figures as complex as Varuna, Yama and 
Nirrti” who are “binding gods” with a net or noose ( pasa). 
Here again, a seasoned vedicist knows that neither Varuna 
nor Yama are “binding gods” only: they are also liberators 
releasing from the bonds of sin, disease and suffering. As for 
Nirrti - it is the state of absolute void wherein all forms are 
dissolved and all energy is absorbed. 

There is serious difficulty in such approaches as Eliade’s. 
First, this scholar mingles texts of different later periods 
(■ sutras , upanisads, brdhmanas and AV) with the RV which 
belongs to a very much earlier period. Later texts, even the 
AV, show important changes. There is devolution (or 
degeneration) as words acquire new meaning(s) while 
practices become grosser and show significant alterations 
(e.g. fixed altars with bricks in the Brahmanas). Second, there 
is an unwavering assumption that shamanic practices (or 
animistic religions) as found in Siberia, among the Eskimos 
and other hunter-gatherer communities are older than those 
found in the RV because these communities are more 
“primitive”. This is largely based on the wretched Aryan 



328 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Invasion Theory which has the Indoaryans enter into 
Saptasindhu (N-W India and Pakistan) c 1700-1500 BCE, 
conquer the natives, (Dravidians, Mundas and whatever) or 
drive them East and South and gradually impose their own 
culture but at the same time absorb elements from the native 
one. Comparisons with such “primitive” folk and with post- 
rigvedic texts are not useful because the RV is much earlier 
than these. Intent as Eliade is on shamanism, Altaic, Siberian 
and the like, as being more ancient and archetypal, he finds 
in the Vedic tradition (and in Buddhism) influences from the 
native “substratum” and even from Babylonia (406). It does 
not occur to him that the influence could be in the other 
direction; nor that monotheism, henotheism and polytheism 
exist simultaneously in the RV and most probably 
monotheism is in fact older; nor that both the drinking of 
Soma and the reflective practices in the RV do not aim at 
shamanic states but at full divinization (or Self-realization) as I 
indicated earlier in §§3,5; nor that polytheism, animism and 
the like are, in fact, devolutions (or degenerations) from an 
earlier and truly primitive form of monotheism or monism. 

9 . Hancock and Wasson, in contrast to Eliade, show 
clearly that the Soma ingestion in rigvedic India, is the true 
shamanic practice (which is in harmony with Lewis-Williams’ 
theory of neurological change c 40000 ago and of the 
inspiration for the Cave Art in Europe and the Rock Art in 
South Africa and other regions). 

Nonetheless, we find no descriptions in the RV 
corresponding to those that modern shamans from various 
parts of the world have given to researchers since mid¬ 
nineteenth century. There are no unions with or possessions 
by peculiar demons or goblins which result in higher states of 
being and knowledge (as with shamans: Eliade 1972 chs 2-4; 
Hancock 2005: 338-344), or with animal spirits that are or 
become the aspirant’s helper and source of power (Lewis- 
Williams 2002: 167, 253 etc). Supernatural beings like 
demons, imps, goblins, fairies, water nymphs etc, are 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 329 

mentioned in the RV, but in the rare case where there is union 
(as with King Pururavas and nymph Urvasi, RV 10.95) there is 
no shamanic experience and new knowledge. Above all, we 
don’t find descriptions of therianthropic transformations and 
of infliction of pain with arrows, spears and the like. I repeat, 
there are no such descriptions at all in the RV. 

But it is not only the hymns of the RVthal are free of these 
extreme shamanic experiences. There is also the Indian Rock 
Art. Representation art in portable pieces goes back to c 
40000 BP. Engravings or paintings on surfaces in rock- 
shelters go back to 25000 for certain, possibly before 
(Lorbhanchet 1992). Here also, from the earliest palaeolithic 
Rock Art down to chalcolithic and even the early historic 
period, we find no therianthropic transformations nor the 
Upper Palaeolithic “wounded” figures (pierced by spears) 
which “may represent a form of shamanistic suffering, death 
and initiation that was closely associated with somatic 
hallucinations” (Lewis-Williams 2002: 262). I should add that 
the RV has no mention whatever of any kind of iconic 
representation in painting, sculpture or relief. 

Clearly then, Lewis-Williams and those who follow him 
and even go beyond his conviction that the shamanistic 
experiences are sheer hallucinations without substance 
beyond the imagination, like Hancock (2005: 284-5; 564), 
are wrong in thinking that the three stages of shamanistic 
hallucinations outlined above in §1 are universal. “We 
believe that ‘shamanism’ usefully points to a human 
universal - the need to make sense of shifting consciousness 
- and the way this is accomplished” writes Lewis-Williams 
(2002:132, emphasis added). Elsewhere he writes also “Joan 
Halifax summed up the suffering of shamans on behalf of 
their communities worldwide (p 226, emphasis added). The 
RV and Indian Rock Art clearly show that no kind of 
therianthropic transformation, of meeting and uniting with 
animal-spirit and of suffering need be involved in reaching 
higher states of consciousness. 


330 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

10. Other scholars have on different grounds found fault 
with Lewis-Williams’ general theory - some with no 
apparent good reason taking a very narrow view of the 
notations of the word ‘shaman’, arguing that such a figure did 
not exist in South Africa and claiming that he selected 
carefully his evidence (Bahn 1997: 182-3), or that he 
misrepresented some of his sources (Hromnick 1991: 100). 
Hancock tackles very ably these criticisms (2005: Appendix 
One). 

On the other hand, R. White, another expert on pre¬ 
historic Art, does present neutrally Lewis-Williams’ 
shamanistic Trance Theory but he points out that all the 
material from prehistoric paintings and engravings used in 
support of the theory constitute less than 10% of the total of 
such art (2003: 122). Indeed, the magnificent images of 
bisons, bulls, horses, stags etc painted in Altamira, Lascaux 
etc in various styles, but almost always most vividly and 
realistically, and many animal and human figures in S. Africa, 
have little to do with the material used to uphold the 
shaman's trance hallucinations. The absence of such material 
(except some honeycomb patterns and two or three 
therianthropic figures) in the Indian Rock Art raises another 
formidable question. 

However, I don t find it out of the ordinary that shamans 
(in the wider sense of the term) did have their trance 
experiences in caves or rock shelters and then had them 
recorded on the rock faces and even the ceiling of the caves. 

I simply object to the sweeping statements that shamanic 
trance experiences, as described by the writers mentioned so 
far, are a universal or all-human process wired into our 
neurological system, and that religion started with such 
experiences and especially with the suffering or wounded 
shaman. And I object because the Indie material, textual and 
iconographic, does not bear them out. 

Another serious objection concerns the incompleteness 
of this theory. Yes, let us accept that the initiates feel 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 331 

excitation after the entheogen or the dance or whatever other 
aid; they feel tingling, pricking, burning and other tactile 
sensations and these are translated into images of spirits 
attacking with arrows and lances (Lewis-Williams 2002: 271- 
7). Let us accept that all such experiences are somatic 
hallucination. But, then, when the initiate returns from his 
trance(s) to our normality and is now a shaman with supra- 
human powers, how did he obtain these powers? Neither 
Lewis-Williams nor Hancock offer any explanation for this. 

11 . Hancock’s Supernatural has as subtitle ‘Meetings 
with the ancient teachers of mankind’. This is a very alluring 
subtitle. But when one has finished the book one wonders 
what it is that these shamans have taught mankind. The 
shamanic initiation stories and other adventures that one 
reads in Eliade (1972), Luna (1986), Kalweit (1988), Halifax 
(1991) and so on, are all modern, not earlier than the mid¬ 
nineteenth century; nor are they illuminating in any 
significant way. Kalweit reports that a Mexican shaman was 
in his pre-shaman period struck by lightning but survived, 
though he would lose consciousness regularly for six months. 
Then, after such an episode his spirit was abducted by 
enanitos ‘dwarf-sized supernatural beings’ who intended to 
turn him into a shaman. At first he refused but after the 
enanitos beat him severely and threatened to kill him he 
acquiesced, received a staff and three stones as aids to 
healing and was married to an enanito wife. He then returned 
to his ordinary life as a shaman but was not allowed to have 
sex with his ordinary human wife but only with his enanita in 
a trance! When he tried to have sex with his human wife, he 
swooned and his spirit was forcibly taken to a cave and 
received a thorough beating. Since then he has sex only with 
his enanita wife and has engendered several children who 
live with their mother in a cave in the enanito world (1998: 
141-2). 

It is very probable that this shaman did much good to his 
small village. But what does this tale teach us? Nothing at all. 


332 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Hundreds of such tales are reported from many regions by 
many investigators. One may or may not believe everything. 
But the fact remains that they teach us nothing. They don’t 
even produce the emotional uplift that a good short story or a 
good poem does. (For similar or corresponding stories of 
witches and “healers”and their “familiars” in medieval 
Europe see Purkiss 2000 passim, esp 152-3). 

What do the prehistoric paintings teach us? An artist might 
learn something and people might admire the finest 
specimens but the rest is of no interest to anybody except 
archaeologists, anthropoligists and various historians. 

Hancock would have us believe that Christ himself was a 
shaman, “so obviously and so profoundly” since he was half¬ 
human half-godly, had healing gifts and went through the 
ordeal of caicifixion to die and be resurrected (2005: 499). 
Except, of course, that halfhuman and half-godly is not 
parallel to half-man half-beast and his ordeal came at the end 
of his life and not like a shaman at an initiatory ritual. (Here 
again we find defective scholarship with misleading 
information.) Then Hancock tells us the early Christian 
Gnostics practised a mushroom cult but in a note it is clarified 
that these were the Manicheans (p500, nil on p687) who 
were definitely not “primitive Christians”, as he calls them 
but of the 3rd century CE and had little to do with the early 
Gnostics and their belief that the true nature (or self) of man is 
the same as that of the Godhead. Here too we have wrong 
information and dubious scholarship. 

M. Ripinsky-Naxon goes much further in finding 
therianthropic and shamantistic notions in early cultures. E.g. 
“ancient Greek religion had shamanistic beginnings” 
(1993:2); also in the Khmers of Cambodia (ibid, 22) etc. He 
also thinks that in ancient times in shamanistic practices 
“human victims were offered in sacrifice to propitiate [the] 
Master of Animals” (p 27). Unfortunately very little real 
evidence and documentation is provided for these claims. 

Hancock refers extensively to the double helix of the 
DNA. Here he cites several writers but I stay with only two 


SHAMANS, RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 333 

who have direct relevance to our discussion - Jeremy Narby 
and Francis Crick. 

Narby puts forth the hypothesis that the DNA has ‘mind’ 
or intelligence and that the entheogen ayahuasca can open 
an inner door and establish a connection with that mind and 
its non-material reality (1995:92-103)- What is more, he 
believes that this living-tissue technology was developed 
“elsewhere than on earth” (1995: 104). Crick, the Nobel 
winner who with J. Watson discovered the double helix 
structure, advances the similar theory that DNA is not of our 
earth but was developed by an extra-terrestrial civilisation 
and contains encoded messages (1982). 

It is not impossible that the primary building blocks of 
living creatures did develop in some distant Galaxy and, 
endowed with intelligence, were sent, or came accidentally, 
to Earth some four billion years ago. But this consideration 
does not really explain the origin of ‘life’ on our planet; it 
merely pushes it further back and tacitly begs the question 
afresh: How did ‘life’ arise in that alleged alien civilisation? 
Neither the two writers nor Hancock raise the issue. Odly 
enough it is raised by fiction writer Dean Koontz in one of his 
novels: if super-intelligent extra-terrestrials created our 
living world, then who created them? (2001: ch 72). 

Another point needs to be made here. Some biologists 
have in recent years began to question the primacy of the 
DNA ascribing equal if not more value to other parts of the 
cell, like proteins and the membrane (Lipton 2005; Baltimore 
2001; et al). It is also thought that the DNA can be altered/ 
modified by various factors (Times on Line 17th Sept 2008: 
M.,Linklater). 

12 . Here follows a brief recapitulation and a different 
point of view. 

The notion of writers like Wasson, Lewis-Williams, 
Hancock and others mentioned in previous pages, that 
religion (which was not defined by them) started with 
shamanistic initiations, trance-states and extraordinary 
practices do not at all tally with the contemplative/meditative 


334 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

practices found in the RV and other early texts of the Vedic 
Tradition (like the Upanishads). While there is ample 
evidence that higher states of consciousness can be achieved 
through the absorption of entheogens or dancing and other 
shamanistic practices, there is also strong evidence that such 
states can be more properly attained through contemplation/ 
meditation and a mode of living based on strict ethical 
observances. This latter course is the one found very clearly 
in the Vedic Tradition (§§3, 5, 8, 9). 

As was said earlier (§5, end) if one can sleep well in the 
normal run of things, one does not resort to sleeping pills or 
other extraneous aids. Only when the natural capacity is lost 
or impaired would one turn to such aids. Similarly, so long as 
people were able to reach those higher states of divinization, 
as the RV amply demonstrates (§5), they would not need to 
resort to shamanistic practices; and, as was said, neither the 
ingestion of Soma nor any other spiritual practice in the RV 
entails shamanistic suffering like piercing with spear or 
arrow, being beaten or torn and so on. The rise into a higher 
state of consciousness is always a joyfull experience. In these 
circumstances, one would use extraneous aids either to 
speed up the natural process or to experiment and gain 
insights prior to the full experience (as the rigvedic priests 
did with Soma). Hymn 8.48.3 say unequivocally: 

apama somam-amrta abhuma aganma jyotir-avidama devan; 

kim-nunam-asman krnavad-aratih kim-u dhurtir, amrta, martyasya. 

‘We drank soma, we became immortal; we went to the 

light, we found the gods; how could now affect us 

distress, O Immortal One, how mortal’s malevolence?’ 

Consequently, on the basis of the rigvedic evidence, 
shamanistic practices and experiences are in fact later 
developments. Furthermore, the widespread belief that at 
c40000 BP there was some kind of neurophysiological 
change towards greater intelligence in homo sapiens (§2, 
end) is by no means well-founded. Plato had argued that the 


SHAMANS. RELIGION, SOMA AND THE RGVEDA / 335 

invention of writing was accompanied (and perhaps was 
occasioned) by a fall in the power of memory. Similarly, one 
can argue that the new behavioural patterns of that period 
may indicate a fall in intelligence. 

However, all these issues need further exploration. 


9 . Tad Ekam: not female, not male 


0. Abstract Contrary to the widely held beliefs that in its 
origin religion had many gods (polytheism) or a supreme 
male god or the worship of a female (Mother) Goddess, this 
paper argues with much evidence that the original state 
probably was one in which all deities are expressions of a 
Primal Power, itself unmanifest and being neither male nor 
female. 

Introduction 

1. It is generally assumed nowadays that man homo 
sapiens has descended from some ape-like creature, which 
itself, “evolved” from some even more primitive mammal, by 
a process of “natural selection” which entailed numberless 
accidental developments of organs and functions: this is the 
so-called scientific view (Ruse M. 2003; Gribbin & Cherfas 
2003; Dawkins 1996; etc), although many scientists have 
since the 1980s cast strong doubts on this (neo-) Darwinian 
explanation of the appearance of different species in the 
earth’s biosphere (Dembski 2004; Behe 1996; Bowler 1992; 
Denton 1985). It is generally assumed too that human 
language “evolved” out of animal grunts and bird-twitterings 
after the vocal machinery and brain structure became 
sufficiently and fittingly developed (Hawkins and Gell-Menn 
1992:21-83). Another widespread assumption is that the 
worship of the Mother Goddess is a much earlier form of 
religion; to quote an authority: “The later patriarchal religions 
and mythologies have accustomed us to look upon the male 
god as a creator... But the original, overlaid stratum knows of 


TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 337 


a female creative being” (Newmann 1955, quoted by 
Klostermaier 2000: 188). In this paper I shall deal only with 
this last assumption. 

The Female Goddess 

2. K. Klostermaier in his chapter on Shaktism, the worship 
of the female goddess who embodies sakti, the supreme 
creative power, sums up the evidence for this “original, 
overlaid stratum” as follows: 

“Neumann assumes for the whole region of the Mediterranean a 
universally adopted religion of the Great Mother Goddess around 
4000 B.C.E., which was revived about 2000 B.C.E., and spread 
through the whole of the then known world. In this religion the 
Great Goddess was worshiped as creator, as Lady of men, beasts 
and plants, as liberator and as symbol of transcendent spiritual 
transformation. 

The Indus civilization also belonged to that tradition in which the 
cult of the Great Goddess was prominent. Numerous teiracotta 
figurines have been found: images of the Mother Goddess of the 
same kind that are still worshiped in Indian villages today. Several 
representations on seals that appear connected with the worship of 
the Great Goddess also exist. On one of these we see a nude female 
figure lying upside down with outspread legs, a plant issuing from 
her womb. On the reverse there is a man with a sickle-shaped knife 
before a woman who raises her arms in supplication. “Obviously it 
depicts a human sacrifice to the Earth Goddess.” 

The connections between Saktism, Mohenjo-Daro civilization, and 
Mediterranean fertility cults seem to be preserved even in the 
name of the Great Mother: “Uma for her peculiar name, her 
association with a mountain and her mount, a lion, seems to be 
originally the same as the Babylonian Ummu or Umma, the 
Arcadian Ummi, the Dravidian Umma, and the Skythian Ommo, 
which are all mother goddesses. The name Durga seems to be 
traceable to Truqas, a deity mentioned in the Lydian inscriptions 
of Asia Minor. There is a common mythology of Great Mother: she 
was the first being in existence, a Virgin. Spontaneously she 
conceived a son, who became her consort in divinity. With her son- 
consort she became the mother of the gods and all life. Therefore 
we find the Goddess being worshiped both as Virgin and Mother” 
(2000:188-189). 


338 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

3- The evidence Klostermaier adduces does indicate that 
the female, at least in the regions mentioned, anteceded the 
male divinity skygod, creator-god or whoever. One should 
also take into account many more studies like the speculative 
study of R. Graves The Mother Goddess (1966), now sadly 
neglected, or M. Gimbutas’ more recent ‘Deities and symbols 
of Old Europe’ (1991). Here undoubtedly we must 
acknowledge the priority of the female genetrix or creatrix or 
matrix. It is easy to reach this conclusion because the 
archaeological evidence is indisputable - as shown below 
with examples from Old Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and 
Mehrgarh. 



Early Minoan Bird-headed female 
Heraklion Museum, Crete 
(in Gimbutas 1991). 


Early Minoan Bee-goddess with 
homs(?) and winged dogs, 
Heraklion Museum, Crete (in 
Gimbutas 1991). 








TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 339 



Female figurine from Mnajdra, 
Malta, c4000: in Mifsud & 
Ventura (1991:111). 


Bird-goddess: Sarajevo Museum; 
5th millenium 
(inGimbutas 1991). 


The Male God. 

However, there is some evidence that suggests, if not 
phallic or Father God worship, at least an awareness of a 
male presence and masculine force playing some significant 
role in the world as is shown by the figures below: - 






340 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 



Two figurines in close embrace also suggesting phallic form(s) (and 
testicles, from above): in Rudgley 1998. 



Female figure suggesting phallus, Upper Palaeolithic, Pigorini 
Museum, Rome (in Gimbutas 199D 










TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 341 


Neither male nor female. 

Thus, even in the Mediterranean basin the female is not 
uniquely dominant. In what is today Israel, some kilometres 
south of Bethlehem, a small but very complex and significant 
figurine was found (early 20th cent) and is now in the British 
Museum, London. It is made from a calcite cobble and is 
about 10 cm tall and 4 cm broad. It is obviously a pair in. close 
sexual embrace but from certain angles it suggests a penis, 
possibly two penises touching and, from above, two testicles. 
This has been assigned to the Natufian period, i.e. 11th or 
10th cent BCE. (For details and references, Rudgley 
1998:187-9). See also the female figure suggesting a phallus 
from the Upper Palaeolithic, now in Rome. 



Small stone circles, Komakino Iseki, northenjapan. 
Jomon structure: from Hancock 2002, pi. 73. 






342 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

What of early cultures that have no'representations of 
female or male gods, or anything like that? Female and male 
figures can be easily distinguished in most archaeological 
remnants in statuary, relief or other iconography. However, 
there are ancient cultures that have no such obvious tell-tale 
figures. I have in mind the Jomon culture in Japan which 
reaches back to the 11th millennium BC and had only some 
circular or oval structures, neatly formed out of pebbles and 
stones. (Rudgley 1998; Hancock 2002). One could of course 
argue that these forms symbolise the female pudendum 
while another might argue, just as convincingly, that they 
represent the male testicle. 

Then, there are the ancient rock painting of Lasceaux and 
Altamira (12000 BC) which, again, show no female or male 
supreme deity, despite the colourfully rich representation of 
animals and (less so) humans. 

There may be even more difficult cases where there is no 
representation at all. Because the culture does not express its 
religious aspirations in concrete imagery but only in poetry 
and music, in song and dance, and has an ageold oral tradition 
only. For instance, Plato in his Republic delineates an early 
ideal community of agriculturalists who produce the goods 
necessary for their frugal needs and for some trade, live 
peacefully and harmoniously and sing the praises of the 
gods. Such people would not leave many tokens for 
archaeologists and anthropologists to erect theories about 
female or male gods. The Jomon may have been such a 
culture, the cultivation of rice being their main economic 
concern. 

Both male and female. 

4. The early Vedic civilization is most probably another 
such case. Following his sources, Klostermaier mentions 
several terracotta figurines of the Mother Goddess found in 
the Indus and Sarasvati civilization. But this particular culture, 
remarkable for its long peaceful duration from c 3000 (early 


TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 343 




Phallic representations (stone lingas. Harappa, Mohenjodaro): 
from Lai 1997 (PL L: C&D). 


Harappan) to c 1900 BCE (mature and late) is only one phase 
of the much longer Vedic civilization that flourished in that 
region (what is today N.W India and Pakistan) and continued 
to develop even until late historical times having moved 


Female figurines (xMehrgarh): from Lai 1999 (PL XXIIA). 




















344 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

eastward to the Gangetic plains. Moreover, the material 
evidence does not indicate an exclusively Mother Goddess 
worship: some seals present a male god and some finds are 
plainly phallic representations suggesting, as in many areas 
today, linga worship - like the two examples below: 

As I have shown in several recent studies (Kazanas 
2007a, 2005, 2002), this is the material expression of the 
older Vedic culture that is encapsulated in the hymns of the 
Rgveda and seems to converge with the post-Rigvedic 
literature of the Brahmana and Sutra texts. While the Indus- 
Sarasvati Culture had literacy, nevertheless no written 
documents containing the Vedic literature have been found. 
The earliest secure writing is the Ashoka Rock Inscriptions of 
the 3rd cent BCE. The early Vedic culture was non-material 
(in comparison with the Harappan one) and the Rgveda, its 
bulk having been composed in the early fourth millennium, 
as well as much of its subsequent literature, was transmitted 
orally until well into historical times. 

What was the religion of the Rgveda ? Here archaeology 
can tell us nothing. For no objects suggestive of religious 
significance and, certainly, no representations of a female or 
male supreme deity have been found in that region from the 
fourth millennium and before. (Some few claim that 
RV 4.24.10 “Who will buy this my Indra” refers to a statuette 
or icon of Indra. But no word for “statuette” or “icon” is used 
and no figure of a male god holding anything remotely 
resembling a vajra ‘bolt’ has been found in relief, seals or 
statuary even in very late Harappan sites. So the phrase may 
refer to a transfer of favour.) Yet, the RV abounds in gods and 
goddesses. But in this document, probably the earliest in the 
cultural history of mankind, we see an unusual situation. 

Polytheism. 

5 . The RV has about 1000 hymns praising various gods. 
The names of several of them appear in other Indo-European 


TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 345 

cultures. Let us examine some examples (for more details, 
Kazanas 2006): 

The Firegod Agni appears in Hittite as Agnis and in Slavic 
as Ogen (and variants) while the word ‘fire’ is in Latin ignis 
and Lithuanian ugnis. 

The Skygod Dyaus appears in Hittite as D-Siu-s, in Greek 
as Zeus, Latin Ju[s]-piter and Germanic Tiwaz. 

The Storm- and Rain-god Parjanya appears in Slavic as 
Perunii, Baltic Perkunas (and variants) and Germanic 
Fjorgyn. 

The Sungod Surya appears in Greek as Helios, Latin 
Sol and Baltic Saule. 

The Dawn-goddess Usas appears in Greek as Eos, Latin 
Aufsjrora and Germanic Eos-tre (and variants). 

The female deities are few in the RV. Apart from Usas we 
meet Aditi ‘the Unbounded One’, a kind of Mother Goddess, 
Rdtn benevolent goddess of night, Sarasvati, a river goddess 
who has also a celestial form and Prthivi, Earth-goddess. 
There are several others but they are mere names - 
Brhaddiva, Indrani etc. All the important gods are male. 
Apart from those mentioned above, there is Indra, the 
warrior god par excellence, Vamna another sky-god who is 
also connected with waters and promulgates the ethical code; 
Soma, both moon-god and the drink that induced ecstasy; 
Aiyaman of contracts; Pusan, another aspect of the sun etc, 
etc. Nonetheless a very important goddess is Vac ‘Speech’ 
{RV 10.125): she declares her attributes in the first person as 
mother of the gods, giver of wealth, queen, immanent in all 
beings, an all-pervading power and encompassing all 
creation. 

Thus here we have glorious polytheism. 

That One: neither male nor female. 

6. However, there are many statements in the hymns that 
all these divinities are expressions of a supreme Power, a 


346 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

Godhead or Absolute, that is otherwise unnamed and 
undescribed. And in this, the Vedic Tradition differs from all 
the other cultures that we know. Taking cosmogonic myths 
from Iran, Greece, Rome and North Europe, some scholars 
rightly state that in these Traditions the creation arises from 
two primordial elements, “the action of heat on water”; then 
they go further and generalize - not rightly - that this process 
reflects “a multi-layered dualism that pervades Indo- 
European myth and religion”. (Stone 1997, ch 5; also Puhvel 
1989: 277). These scholars would have been right if they had 
written “some of later Indo-European religions”; because the 
early one, as seen in the RV, is quite different. In the creation 
hymn 10.129 (or ndsadiya sukta as it is known in the native 
tradition from the hymn’s first hemistich) all creation arose 
out of That One tad-ekam, alone, that “breathed without air of 
its own power” (cinid avatam svadhaya tad ekam). Only in 
the third stanza appear Salildm ‘fluxuating energy’ (usually 
but wrongly translated as ‘water’) and tdcpas ‘force of 
transformation/materialization’ (usually and wrongly given 
as ‘heat’) within tdmas ‘darkness’, within tucchy&m ‘void’. 
Then comes the self-begotten one-existence dbhu- which 
evolves and becomes the creation. In stanza 4 rises kama 
which entwines and pervades adhi-sam-a-vrt- that 
“becoming” and later still creative forces and the gods. Here 
at least, it is a Primal Unity that is the source of all 
manifestations: neither female nor male. 

All deities are expressions of that supreme First Cause. 
This is stated explicitly in several hymns, both early and late. 
RV 1.164.6 and 10.114.5 say clearly that the wise poets 
speak of it, although One, in many ways and forms giving it 
the names of various divinities like Agni, Yama, Indra etc as 
in 164.6 cd: — ekam sad vlprd bahudha vadanti: agnhn 
yamam matarisvanam-ahuh. RV 8.58.2 says again: ekam 
va id(mi vi babhuva. s&rvam ‘It being One has variously (vi) 
become this All [and Everything]’. The idea that all gods 
are manifestations of the One is reinforced by the 


TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 347 

acknowledgement that the gods are gods by virtue of a single 
godhood or god-power of which they partake: this is made 
clear in the refrain of hymn 3-55; mahad devanam asuratvdm 
ekam ‘Single is the great god-power (or ‘lord-power’ 
asuratva) of the gods’. Consider also 3-54.8cd: - ejad 
dhruvam patyate visvam-ekam caratpatatf vlsunam vijdtam 
- ‘moving yet still, the One ( ekam neuter) governs the 
whole-as-unity, (what moves and what stands firm,) what 
walks and flies, all this manifest disparate (yi) multiplicity’. 

Thus knowledge of the One is present in the family 
collections of hymns, the older books of the RV. 

Utilizing different material in the RV, K. Werner made the 
same point back in 1989 (see also Kazanas 2002). 

The One in different cultures. 

7. It may be thought that only the RV speaks of a Primal 
Unity, unmanifest and undescribed. However a careful 
reading of the Pyramid Texts, the oldest religious writings in 
Egypt (see Faulkner 1969), reveals that there also the 
multiplicity of deities, male and female, comes from a 
primordial Unity called Atum, ‘the Complete One’ or Nun 
‘the primal substance’ (usually given as ‘water’) and J. 
BottEro, one of the foremost authorities on early 
Mesopotamian culture, pointed out that polytheism there 
may well have derived from a primordial Unity, unnamed 
(Bottero 2001:74). Thus the RV and the early Vedic culture is 
not alone in acknowledging the genderless First Cause of 
everything. 

Another common assumption is that the Judaic religion in 
the Old Testament (or Pentateuch ) presents for the first time 
monotheism. This assumption is wrong on three counts. First, 
the Hebrews emerge into historical times c 12th cent BCE. 
At best, their Old Testament cannot be older than c 1800 
when its first book, Genesis, was perhaps composed, 
borrowing much material from the Mesopotamian culture 
(the primordial waters, man’s creation out of clay, the flood 


348 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

etc). Second, the god Jehovah/Yahveh appears, upon a close 
inspection, to be only a superior god among many others, a 
kind of primus inter pares-, throughout the Old Testament god 
used the plural “we” as if there are many gods; the name 
Elohim, usually translated as ‘god’, is in fact plural ‘gods’; the 
Jews worshipped many other gods at times and principally 
Baal; psalm 81 or 82 states that “God stands in the assembly 
of gods and in their midst he will judge the gods”. Third, 
Yahveh is not an impartial, universal spirit but very partisan 
and favourable towards the Jews; a jealous and vindictive 
deity who constantly interferes in the affairs of mankind and 
punishes people because of sins committed by their distant 
forefathers. Thus, when all these considerations are taken 
into account, it is difficult to regard the Judaic Yahveh as the 
prototype of monotheism. A fourth point is that as the Indians 
of the Mature Harappan culture had established trade-centres 
in Mesopotamia c 2300 (McEvilley 2002; Lai 1997) and as the 
Jews were in Ur c 1900 (although this date is in dispute: 
Dunstan 1998), it is possible if not probable that they adopted 
their kind of monotheism from the Indians themselves there. 
The hints in the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures and 
much more so, the clear statements in the early Vedic 
tradition have a prior claim to monotheism in its truer form of 
a transcendental, universal Absolute. 

But, of course, this non-material Oneness that is beyond 
the senses is not so easy to worship. How can we worship 
something that is Unmanifest and without a finite, 
conceivable form?... For this reason most probably the Primal 
Unity slipped away into the dimmest background of ancient 
religion while different deities, male and female, came to the 
foreground and captured the attention and devotion of the 
large majority of the peoples. Later came monotheistic 
religions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam. In Judaism and Islam 
it is the one God, Yahveh and Allah respectively, that 
demands the attention of the faithful. But in Christianity, it is 


TAD EKAM: NOT FEMALE, NOT MALE / 349 


also other powers, the Son, Christ, the Holy Virgin, angels 
and saints that claim the people’s devotion. 

8. Can we say that the genderless Unity preceded the 
concept of the Mother Goddess? Strictly speaking, the 
material representations of the female Creatrix coming as 
they do from the fifth millennium precede a document like 
the RV, which is of the fourth millennium, or the religions of 
Mesopotamia and Egypt which cannot be much before 
3000BCE - at least as we know their most ancient forms. 
(At the same time we must take into account the 
archaeological evidence in artefacts strongly suggestive of 
the male force, as shown in some of the figures - artefacts 
which are as old as, if not older than, the female figures.) 
On the other hand, the One Absolute, infinite and 
indescribable, could not possibly be represented in a material 
form that would be recognized by us. In India there were 
representations of many deities (Visnu, Siva, Krsna, LaksmI, 
etc) but not of the Absolute Brahman. Leaving aside Egypt 
and Mesopotamia, we cannot rule out the possibility that the 
Vedic oral tradition goes back many millennia before the 
fourth. Nor can we dismiss entirely the concept of the 
cyclical recurrence of events, the periodic emergence and 
dissolution of the creation, in large units of time called yuga, 
as found in the Vedic tradition. In this view of creation, 
mankind starts in the perfection and unity of the Krta-yuga (or 
Sat-yuga) ‘the Age of Truth and Goodness’; then they slip 
into the Treta-yuga where dhcmna ‘righteousness’ or ‘virtue’ 
diminishes by a quarter and division enters into the scene, but 
there is still much piety and knowledge; from this they pass 
into the Dvapara where dharma diminishes by a further 
quarter and people are no longer governed by reason but by 
uncontrolled feeling; finally they drop into the Kali-yuga 
where dharma is only at one fourth of its force and people 
are governed by their appetites, envies and attachments. 
Their language, too, which began as a unitary mighty 


350 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 

instrument of creativity and communication devolves 
gradually into many different tongues where words are 
divorced from concepts, things and actions: e.g. the sounds 
making up the word “abbot” or “zoo” do not suggest at all the 
form and function (i.e. the meaning) of these material 
phenomena. 

Thus it is possible, however remote it may seem to us 
today (and utterly unacceptable to a grossly materialist 
mindset), that some people preserved with their oral tradition 
the knowledge of a Primordial Unity, neither male nor 
female, from which both male and female devolved. This 
implies, of course, that all religions or philosophical systems 
appearing in historical times or in the archaeological material 
records are devolutes or fragmented, incomplete memories 
of that all inclusive and coherent doctrine where the many 
are derivatives of the One. Even a monotheistic religion like 
that of the Hebrew people probably derived from such a 
unitary doctrine and its system (Kazanas 2005, 2007). In 
historical times, of course, we find much evidence of cross¬ 
influences between the various religions and such 
interactions may well have occurred even in pre-historic 
times as people migrated or traded. That the many devolved 
from the One is quite the opposite of what historians of 
religion and anthropologists teach, publishing as they do the 
notion that ancient or “primitive” religion began with 
polytheism and animism before developing into monotheism 
and/or a higher ethical code. But the evidence of the 
Mesopotamian early religious writings, as Bottero pointed 
out, the Egyptian Pyramid Texts and especially the Rgveda, 
direct us to this conclusion, that in earliest times the many 
gods and goddesses were expressions of the One, neither 
male nor female. 


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Index 


ablaut 1, 4-6, 8, 12-13, 16,18, 31, 
33, 167, 203, 229, 244, 250, 
252 

AcharB.N. 152. 

ages 270. 

agglutinative 236, 241-242, 245. 

AIT (=Aryan Invasion/ 

Immigration Theory) 3, 22, 
31, 46n., 47, 112, 114-115, 
117, 118, 120-121, 133, 141, 
143, 145, 153-154, 172, 184, 
199, 206, 208, 218-219, 231, 
313. 

Aitareya Brahmana 151, 162, 
267, 305. 

AlineiM. 238. 

Allchin B.&R. 179-180, 271. 

alliteration 127-129, 281. 

dmbhas xi, xii. 

Anatolia-n xiii, 82, 86, 137, 187, 
190, 205, 208-210, 212, 216- 
217, 219-222, 224, 228-229, 
233, 269, 308, 364-365. 

animals xxviii, 50, 67, 100, 267, 
286, 289, 291, 315, 324-326, 
332, 342. 

Anthony D. 195, 201-202, 208, 
210 - 211 . 

anthropologi-cal/-y xv, 143, 194, 
197, 231, 234, 358, 365. 

archaeolog-ical/-y xv, xix, 115, 


120, 143, 155, 180, 187, 192- 
194, 197, 209, 231, 234, 283, 
338, 342, 344, 349-350, 354, 
355, 358, 362-363, 364, 366, 
369-370. 

Aristotle xxvii, 195, 300. 
arya-n xix, xx, 3, 112, 120, 125, 
134-136, 141-143, 148, 184, 
186, 199, 232, 234, 270-272, 
283, 312, 351. 

Atharva Veda 133,152, 225, 268, 
271, 282, 284, 286-287, 297- 
298. 

Avesta-n xxiii, 2, 4,8, 20, 51,119- 
120, 126, 131-134, 142, 144- 
150, 153-157, 160, 162-170, 
172-173, 175-178, 181, 183- 
184, 187, 191, 206, 212, 214, 
218-219, 221-222, 225, 226, 

230, 248, 272, 276, 280, 283, 
289, 303, 352, 359-360. 

Bactria, xxiii, xxx, 136, 155, 181, 
184, 187, 208, 210, 211, 224, 

231, 233, 300. 

Balt-ic/-s xxii, 44, 47, 49, 85,115, 
126-127, 137, 155, 187, 205, 
207, 211, 216-224, 231, 234, 
275-276, 278, 285, 303, 345. 
Balto-Slavic 155, 194, 201-202, 
216, 220, 222. 



Baudhayana 135, 182, 193, 233, 
272. 

Beekes R. 142, 144-145, 165, 
168, 170, 175-177, 352, 365. 

Brhaddranyaka Upanishad 268, 

Brahman (= Absolute) 38, 118, 
138-139, 277, 283, 327, 346, 
348-349. 

Brahmana-s xvii, xxix, 31, 40, 
132-133, 139, 147-148, 151, 
162, 199, 225-226, 266 , 268, 
271, 277, 284, 287, 297-298, 
304-305, 313, 321, 327, 344, 
349. 

brick-s 141, 152, 156-157, 199, 
271, 327. 

Burkert W. xxv, 268, 273-275, 
282-285, 287-290, 293-296, 
301-302, 310, 353. 

Burrow Th. xvii, 2, 32, 37, 113, 

120, 130, 147, 200, 260, 311, 
353. 

Celt-ic/-s xxii, xxv, 35, 37,44, 46, 
84, 106-107, 114-115, 122, 
126-127, 131, 137, 139, 187, 
190, 193-194, 201, 203-205, 
208-209, 212, 216-224, 234, 
270, 275, 278, 281, 285, 303, 
308, 310, 364. 

Chadwick J. 272-273, 354, 371. 

chariot 67, 283, 291. 

civilization xvi, xxvii, 1,117,118, 

121, 140, 141, 301, 337, 342, 
343, 351, 360-362, 367-368, 
370. 

consonant-s 1, 11, 18, 22-24, 26- 
27, 29, 30, 95, 126. 

cosmic order 129, 182, 291, 322, 
365. 


INDEX / 375 

creation (-hymn, -myths) viii, 140, 
307, 309, 346. 

Dales G. 134, 200, 354. 

Dembski W. 38, 121, 336, 352, 
355. 

dhdtuxxui, xxiv, xxx, 5,8,19, 26, 
31-32, 88, 90-91, 104-105, 
110, 130, 181, 192, 202-203, 
218, 224, 236-237, 249-254, 
266-267, 311. 

Dhatupatba 26, 367. 

divination 270, 274, 284-285. 

Dixon R. xxiv, 236, 240, 266-267, 
325. 355. 

Dravidian 27, 30, 112, 169, 170, 
172, 283, 328, 337. 

Drinka B. 147-148, 189-198, 201- 
203, 208-210, 216, 226, 227, 

355. 

Dvapara 349- 

Edda xiv, 109, 290, 356. 

Egypt-ian ix, xiv, xvi, xviii, xxi, 
xxv, 40, 86,100,199, 212, 237, 
244-246, 248, 258, 265, 269, 
271-272, 312-313, 347-350, 
351, 354, 357, 359-360, 363, 
371, 372. 

Eliade M. 313, 323, 325-328, 331, 

356. 

elite 86, 214, 363. 

endings 87, 89-91, 170-171, 202, 
208, 212, 217, 220, 222, 227- 
228, 230, 237, 239-240, 249, 
251-253, 255-256, 259-264. 

Epic 19-20, 31, 99, 127, 153, 
159-161, 263, 271-272, 277- 
278, 280, 283, 290, 293, 297- 
299, 307, 313, 320, 352, 372. 


37 6 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


English & Old English xii, xx, xxiv, 
7, 9, 12, 22, 25, 31, 41, 47, 48, 
87-88, 122, 127-128, 131, 175, 
199, 206, 212-213, 225, 
235-236, 238-240, 243-246, 
252, 311, 373. 

Erinusxiv, 124, 273. 

Family books/mandalas 143,150, 
154, 309. 

female-goddess 337. 

feminines 8, 17, 35, 210, 212, 
229-230, 259. 

Finno-Ugric 112-113, 119-120, 
241, 243-244. 

fusional xxiv, 236-237, 240-241, 
243-244, 247. 

Ganges 113, 187, 192. 

genetics xix, 41, 234, 362, 369, 
371. 

Germanic xii, xiii, xxii, xxiii, 37, 
47, 51, 85, 107, 115, 126-127, 
131, 187, 193-195, 201, 205, 
207, 209, 216-220, 222-224, 
227-229, 231, 234, 238, 244, 
275, 278, 281-282, 345, 371. 

grammar 8, 28, 31, 125, 130, 175, 
177, 202, 213, 266, 352, 357, 
358, 359, 364, 366, 370, 372. 

Greece ix, xii, xiii, xiv, xv, xxv, 4, 
49, 109, 114-115, 140, 151, 
201, 204-206, 268, 270, 274, 
281, 288-289, 300, 304, 307- 
310, 312, 316, 346, 359, 366, 
368, 370. 

Greeks xiv, xv, 58, 84-86, 107, 
119, 139, 211, 268-270, 272- 
273, 278, 280, 285, 287, 296- 
297, 300-301, 304, 307-308, 
310, 313, 354, 361. 

Gypsies 114, 357. 


Hancock G. 312, 315, 316, 318- 
319, 323-325, 328-333, 341- 
342, 358. 

Harappa-n xix, xxix, 135-136, 
183, 199, 232, 271, 343-344, 
348, 354, 360. 

Hara x -vaiti 179-182, 206. 

Hebrew xvii, 221, 252, 259, 347, 
350. 

Hittite-s xxiii, xxx, 8, 35, 81-83, 
85, 86, 91, 107, 123, 126-127, 
131, 137-138, 146-148, 172, 
190, 193, 195, 201, 203-205, 
208-211, 213-214, 216-221, 
223-230, 247-248, 253, 272, 
278, 281, 303, 305, 307, 345, 

368, 371-372. 

Hock H.H. 21-22, 24, 27, 113- 
114, 172, 185-187, 189, 194, 
203, 206-208, 210-211, 217- 
218, 224, 358. 

Hoffman K. 175-176, 317, 359, 
371. 

Hungarian xxiv, 236-238, 241- 
245, 247, 261. 

IA (=Indo-aryan) xv, 133, 142- 
143, 148, 186, 270-272, 307, 
353, 356, 360-361, 364, 367, 

369. 

IE (=Indo-European) vii, xiii, xv, 
xvi, xix, xxi, xxii, 1, 2, 5, 6, 21, 
43-44, 47, 118, 125, 140, 143, 
185-186, 197, 268, 270-271, 
278, 294, 310-312, 344, 346, 
352, 354-356, 358, 360-361, 
363, 364, 367, 368, 370-372. 

Indra 86, 118,123,126, 128, 140, 
160, 199, 279, 281-283, 286- 
292, 294, 298. 

isolating xxiv, 236, 240. 


INDEX / 377 


Iran-ian xix, xx, xxii, xxiii, 3, 27, 
43-44, 59, 63, 83, 107, 112- 
114, 116, 119-120, 123, 126, 
133-134, 140, 142-145, 148- 
150, 153-155, 164, 166-168, 
171-173, 179-184, 194-195, 
197, 201-202, 204-205, 210, 
214-219, 221-223, 225-227, 
233, 248, 291, 303, 312, 318, 
346, 355, 362, 363, 369, 370. 
Ireland 43, 46, 51, 126, 204, 223, 
273- 

Irish xvii, 36, 45, 122, 126, 127, 
170, 193, 312. 

ISC (Indus-Sarasvati Civilization) 
xxix, 1,84, 117,121, 135, 152, 
337, 342, 344, 367-368. 
isoglosses xv, xx, xxiii, 185, 187- 
189, 194, 201, 203, 205-208, 
210, 213, 216, 218, 222-224, 
227, 231. 

Jews 114, 348. 

Jomon 341. 

Judaic xxxi, 41, 100, 312, 347, 
348. 

Kali-yuga 349. 

Keith A. 139, 182, 282, 286, 288, 
289, 294, 303-304, 308, 309, 

361, 371. 

KenoyerJ.M. xix, 117,134, 361. 
Kingsley P. 85, 274, 362. 
kr dhatu 5, 8, 202, 203. 

Krta-yuga 41, 349. 

Kuiper F. 162, 362. 

Kurgan-s 115, 118-119, 121. 

Lai B.B. 134, 179, 233, 343, 348, 

362 . 


language-s 41-42, 44, 45, 47-48, 
50, 52, 81-88, 94, 96, 100-101, 
104, 106, 110, 112-115, 
118-120, 123, 125, 129-131, 
137, 142-143, 146, 149-157, 
162, 164, 175, 177, 183-192, 
194, 197-198, 200-203, 205, 
207-208, 211-218, 221, 223, 
225-226, 228, 230, 234, 237- 
238, 240-244, 246-250, 256, 
258, 259, 261, 263-268, 272, 
281, 308, 310-311, 336, 349, 
351-356, 358-359, 363-364, 
366, 368, 370-373. 

laryngeals 42, 144-146, 165, 190, 
214-215, 229, 247. 

Latin xxii, xxiii, xxiv, 19-20, 31, 
34, 37, 45, 47, 51, 81, 85, 87, 
90, 101, 115, 122, 127, 131, 
137, 165, 167, 171, 189, 191, 
198, 217-219, 221, 223, 224, 
226, 230, 237, 239-240, 242, 
246, 252-255, 26l, 263, 264, 
345, 367, 370. 

Leach E. xix, xx, 1, 121, 362. 

Levitt S. 1, 363. 

Linguistic-s viii, xv, xvi, xvii, xviii, 
xxi, xxiii, xxiv, xxx, 5, 17, 29, 
37, 40,41,43,47, 94, 115-116, 
119, 120-121, 136, 142-143, 
145-146, 150-153, 165, 172, 
183, 185, 192-193, 195, 197- 
200, 208-212, 215, 220, 231, 
234, 238-239, 249, 264-266, 
272, 301, 310, 352-356, 358- 
361, 363, 366, 368, 370, 372- 
373. 

linguistic change 238, 239, 265. 

Loprieno A. 245-246, 363- 


378 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


Lorblanchet M. 363. 

Lubotsky A. 155-157, 162-163, 
174, 183, 219, 363, 365. 

MacDonell A.A. 8, 10, 11, 27, 29- 
30, 147, 163, 171-172, 177, 
254, 302, 364, 371. 

male-god 336, 339, 342, 344. 

MalloryJ.P. 43-47,49,81-84,113- 
115, 188, 191, 193, 201, 211, 
222, 265, 364. 

Marcantonio A. 215-216, 229, 
242-244, 351, 355, 360, 364, 
369. 

MayrhoferM. 8, 28, 30, 32,36, 51, 
97, 111, 155, 163, 164, 229, 
362, 364. 

McEvilleyTh. 348, 365. 

metre xxiii, 127-128, 144, 175- 
178, 183, 280, 282. 

Miller J. 321, 365. 

Misra S.S. 21, 28, 184, 211, 312, 
366. 

mother-goddess xxvi, 283, 294, 
297, 336-338, 342, 344-345, 
349, 357, 366. 

Muller M.F. xvii, xix, 126, 134, 
143, 182, 199, 270, 302, 366. 

mytholog-y/ical xiv, 37, 39, 268, 
270-271, 276, 283, 302-303, 
305, 310, 312-313, 336-337, 
352, 353, 362, 368, 371. 

NarbyJ. 325, 333, 366. 

ndsadiya-sukta viii, 346. 

negatives 107, 130, 221, 229, 
245, 256. 

Nichols J. xxx, 136, 211, 231, 366. 

Nirukta 271, 276, 287, 298. 

nounxxii, xxiv, xxx, 8,13,15-16, 
18-20, 32-36, 44, 52-53, 87-93, 
95-96, 98-106, 109, 122, 130- 


131, 134, 137, 147, 167, 170- 

172, 181, 237, 240-249, 251, 
254, 259, 261-262, 264, 291, 
297-298, 311. 

Old Testament xvii, xxxi, 41, 99, 
100, 347-348. 

One ix, xv, xxvi, 23, 106, 109, 
118, 129, 138-140, 212, 309- 
310, 312, 321, 326, 330, 334, 
345-350, 362. 

Oppenheimer S. 234, 367. 

oral tradition 81, 84, 85,112,113, 
116, 231, 272, 274-276, 342, 
349-350. 

origin (of language/man) xxi, 39, 
99, 110, 174, 234. 

Orpheus xii, xiii, xiv, xxv, 124, 
276. 

palatals 24, 206. 

palatalization 216. 

Panini 13, 213. 

Pausanias xiv, 299- 

Perfect (tenses) 16. 

philosoph-y/ical 39, 111, 121, 
125, 138, 190, 266, 285, 300- 
301, 304, 309-310, 350, 360- 
362, 372. 

PIE (Proto-Indo-European) xiii, 
xiv, xv, xxi, xxii, xxv, xxx, 
xxxi, 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 17, 19-22, 
24, 26-27, 30, 36-37, 42, 45, 
47,49, 52, 56-57,61-62,64-67, 
70-71, 76-77, 80, 83, 91-93, 
95-97, 101, 104, 106-112, 114, 
116-120, 122, 125, 142-144, 
146, 150, 153, 165-170, 172- 

173, 185, 187-190, 191, 194, 
203, 207-208, 210-215, 218, 
221-222, 229-231, 247, 250, 
252, 255-256, 258, 260-264, 



INDEX / 379 


270, 273, 276, 278, 280, 282, 
296, 307, 308. 

pitr 8, 19, 36, 59, 96, 137, 165- 
166, 173, 214-215. 

Plato xxvii, 40,195, 269, 296,300, 
304, 310, 334, 342. 

Possehl G. xix, 117,134,179,367. 
PP (=Preservation Principle) 87 
prepositions 79, 258. 
preservation xxii, 43, 84, 87, 114, 
360, 364. 

proto-languages 42, 146, 150, 
237-238, 241. 

PuhvelJ. 139-140, 213, 270, 275, 
285, 291, 305, 307-308, 310, 
312, 346, 368. 

Pulgram E. 237, 368. 
Pythagoreans xiii, 274,300. 

qualities xxiv, 23, 43, 50, 69, 141. 

Rbhus xv, 139, 327. 
reconstructions (linguistic) xii, xiii, 
xx, xxxii, 1-2, 29, 42, 95, 116, 
119, 121-122, 146, 147, 150, 
166, 172, 189-190, 215, 238- 
239, 241, 247, 263- 
reduplication 5, 194-195, 239, 
252, 256, 258. 

relations (human, common) 50, 
58, 86, 137, 227, 229, 248. 
representations (iconic, relief 
sculpture) 301. 

retroflex-ion xxi, 1, 8, 22, 27, 29- 
30, 154, 166 , 168, 170, 172, 
230-231, 250-251. 
riddle 82,128, 281. 
root-s viii, xxii, xxiv, 1-2, 4-8, 14, 
16-19, 21, 29-33, 35, 41, 49, 
87-89, 91, 95-96, 101-102, 


104, 106-107, 109, 111, 119, 
125, 130-131, 134, 141, 169- 
171, 181, 202-203, 218, 220, 
225, 236, 248-250, 252-253, 
256, 272, 278, 305, 311, 318, 

362, 371. 

rta 5, 13, 41, 63, 106, 129, 157, 
291, 319, 322, 334. 

ruins 152. 

Russian xxiv, 47, 112, 126, 132, 
160, 188, 195, 210-211, 213- 
214, 220-221, 237, 365. 

Saptasindhu viii, xix, xx, xxiii, xxx, 
3, 45, 112-114, 116, 117, 119- 
120, 125, 133-136, 141, 143, 
145, 149-150, 154, 156, 166, 
171, 173, 179, 181-185, 187, 
192, 193, 194, 197, 200, 205, 
208, 210, 226, 231-234, 328. 

sarasvatl (goddess/river) 119, 
136, 180, 182, 183, 187, 232, 
271,294,345. 

Satapatha Brahmana 268, 297, 
305. 

Schmitt R. 142-149, 164-169, 
172-173, 176, 184, 369. 

Seidenberg A. 272, 369. 

shaman xiii, 314-315, 317, 
323-332, 354, 355, 358, 360, 

363, 366, 372. 

Slav-ic/-s xii, xvi, xxii, 20, 45, 47, 
115, 126-127, 131, 155, 187, 
194, 201-202, 207, 216, 219, 
220-224, 276, 281, 308, 345. 

steppe (Pontic/Russian) 112, 
115-116, 118-119, 121, 132, 
156, 195, 197, 203, 205, 208- 
210, 214, 218, 220, 224, 231, 
233. 


380 / VEDIC AND INDOEUROPEAN STUDIES 


Szemerenyi O. 2, 4, 6, 7,13,14. 

fczrf ekam xxvi, 39,138,140, 213, 
259, 336, 346. 

tapas 140, 327. 

Tibeto-Burman 241, 355. 

Tocharian91,110,114, 122, 

131, 154, 187, 190, 195, 201, 
203, 204-205, 208-210, 216, 
220-222, 224-225, 228-229, 
233, 260, 311. 

Treta-yuga 349. 

Underhill P. xix, 234,371. 

Upanishads 139, 140, 143, 152- 
153, 268, 271, 277, 334, 357, 
361. 

velar-s 9, 22, 25, 170-171, 186, 
206, 217, 223. 


VQwel gradation 1, 4, 7, 12, 16, 
102, 103, 130, 131. 

vrddhi 4-7, 12-13, 33, 102, 111, 
163, 175, 250. 

Watkins C. 1, 2, 18, 25, 26, 118, 
121, 129-130, 177, 213, 217, 
281, 371. 

West L. 205. 

Witzel M. 113,150,152,155-157, 
182, 189, 193, 373. 

Yajur Veda xxix, 152, 156, 179, 
199, 298. 

yuga-s 39, 41, 76, 313, 349- 

Zarathustra 83,155, 366. 

Zeus xiii, xxiv, 41,86,88,96,109, 
117, 123, 126, 223, 267, 270, 
273-275, 277, 279, 287, 
289-295, 298-299, 345. 






* 










Dr. Nicholas Kazanas is Greek- 
born. He was educated chiefly in 
Britain. He read English Literature 
in University College; Economics 
and Philosophy at the School of 
Economic Science; Sanskrit in the 
School of Oriental and African 
Studies — all in London. He did 
his post-graduate studies at SOAS 
and in Pune and Varanasi. He 
taught for some years in London. 
For more than 20 years now he is 
the Director of Omilos Meleton, 
a Cultural Institute in Athens. 
He has various publications in 
Greek; several peer-reviewed 
academic Journals, Western and 
Indian, have printed his articles 
on Indology. 

He is currently on the Editorial 
Board of several University 
Journals (ICFAI, Adyar Bulletin 
etc) and Chief Editor of Vedic 
Venues. 


? 1250 

ISBN 978-81-7742-137-8 



9 788177 421378 


Cover Design: Am Creations 





















































































































































































































































turva^ 

N 



VA DUS 




ORIGINS AND OTHER VEDIC ISSUES 


This book contains studies discussing the thorny problem of Indo- 
aryan origins and finds its solution in indigenism. The studies 
examine various aspects of the Indo-European common heritage 
and of the Vedic tradition. One study analyses the position of 
the early Hittite culture in relation to the other IE branches and 
especially Vedic. Another traces the common names of deities in the 
different IE cultures. Two studies compare Vedic and Mesopotamian 
and Vedic and Egyptian interconnections respectively. Others 
examine purely Vedic issues like the religio-philosophical thought 
in the Vedas and the real meaning of the words pur ‘defensive 
structure’ and samudra ‘confluence of waters, ocean’. In all these 
studies the Vedic inheritance emerges as the oldest of all IE 
traditions, older than even the Near eastern cultures; the bulk of 
the Rgveda hymns appear to have been composed in the 4th 
millennium; and the Indo-aryans are shown to have been residing 
in North-West India (and Pakistan) since about 5000 BCE. The 
writer arrives at these conclusions by examining and comparing 
evidences from the linguistic, literary, anthropological and archaeo¬ 
logical fields (and from Genetics). 

2009, xiv,374p, (5)b&w ills., bibl., ind., 23cm. 


Aditya Prakashan 

New Delhi 



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